Telecom porting regulations now in effect-Although the mobile number portability (MNP) regulations are now in effect, it remains uncertain when mobile-phone subscribers will be able to port their numbers, due to the operators’ lack of readiness.
Prasert Apipunya, deputy secretary-general of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), yesterday said the MNP regulations had taken effect on Monday. They allow mobile-phone subscribers to use their existing numbers with the new networks they have switched to.The regulations stipulate major cellular operators must jointly set up a central clearing house to facilitate the porting. They must complete the clearing house’s establishment within three months of the regulations coming into force. However, the major operators have said it is impossible to finish fine-tuning their networks and jointly establish the clearing house within the NTC’s deadline. They say the tasks are highly complicated and time-consuming, involving network upgrades through to testing the clearing-house system to make sure it works in accordance with specifications. In addition, cellular operators must train their customer-service outlets to handle porting requests by subscribers.
Advanced Info Service (AIS) president Wichian Mektrakarn said his company, Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move would jointly inform the NTC within 30 days that they were unlikely to meet its deadline. They have also reached agreement on sending details of each of their plans for MNP materialisation to the NTC within 30 days. Wichian said the three cellular operators had, however, yet to reach a conclusion on whether they need to set up a joint company to run the clearing house. He estimates the overall cost of establishing the clearing house could be in the region of US$3 million to $10 million (Bt102 million to Bt340 million). AIS has already set aside $4.5 million as its potential contribution. In addition, the cellular operators have yet to decide on the fee that mobile-phone subscribers will have to pay to the networks they port their numbers to. Prasert said the operators should have made great progress on MNP promotion a long time ago, given that the NTC had discussed the plan to create MNP regulations with them two years ago.