Paper Presentation & Seminar Topics: Mobile Number Portability

Mobile Number Portability



Mobile number portability allows a mobile subscriber to switch operators without changing his/her telephone number. This paper describes and analyzes mobile number portability routing mechanisms and their implementation costs. Cost recovery issues for number portability are discussed in this paper from a technical perspective. We note that rules for cost recovery also depend on business and regulatory factors that vary from country to country.

This paper examines the consequences of introducing mobile number portability (MNP). If the sole effect of introducing MNP is the abolishment of switching costs, MNP unambiguously benefits mobile customers. However, if MNP also causes consumer ignorance, as telephone numbers no longer identify networks; mobile operators will increase termination charges, with ambiguous net effect on the surplus of mobile customers.

Mobile number portability (MNP) requires that mobile telephone customers can keep their telephone number–including the prefix–when switching from one provider of mobile Tele communications services to another. In the absence of MNP, customers have to give up their number and must adopt a new one when they switch operators. As a result, customers face switching costs associated with informing people about changing their number, printing new business cards, missing valuable calls from people that do not have the new number, etc. Based on these considerations, many regulatory authorities have imposed mandatory MNP–or are about to require its introduction–so as to reduce customers’ switching costs, attempting to make mobile telecommunications more competitive The world’s first country to introduce MNP was Singapore in 1997.

This paper introduces the concept of number portability, explains its different types and benefits, and the technical, operational, and economic issues that might arise out of its implementation in India. The specific issues such as ensuring tariff transparency, the National Numbering Plan, and regulating porting charges, etc. have been raised and will need careful consideration.

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