Mobile number portability plan could boost telecom competition

TN News

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Customers will be able to change mobile phone operators without changing their mobile numbers by next year, or in 2012, alongside rules the government is now drafting to boost local telecom competition.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang said the mobile number portability (MNP) policy, expected to be finished this year and introduced in 2011 or 2012, would benefit customers and strengthen competition within the telecommunications sector.

"Mobile phone operators will have to increase their service quality with reasonable prices," said Thang. "Before, many customers have hesitated to change the service providers as they like maintaining their mobile numbers. But when the MNP policy is applied, the situation will be different."

"Only telecom firms which offer good prices and quality can survive and develop," he said.

MNP, a feature common in many international markets, allows consumers to use the same telephone number even if they switch service providers.

Thang also said the policy would also allow for the network system to be used more effectively.

"When MNP is applied, mobile phone operators will no longer own particular prefixes. Instead, they will share all the prefixes.

"Now they are asking for new series of numbers, offering to pay billions of dong for that per year; but MNP will force them to reconsider. In case they can't ensure good quality and reasonable prices, it turns out that they pay fees for new numbers on behalf of other service providers."

Though Vietnam has a population of 86 million, there are some 115.7 million mobile subscriptions in the country, the General Statistic Office said last month. About 50 million mobile phone numbers are inactive, local newswire VnExpress said at the end of last year.

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