S'pore readies mobile number portability

Slated for launch Jun. 13, the service will bring competitive subscription deals to the country's mobile phone subscribers, says regulator.

SINGAPORE--Come June, mobile phone subscribers in the country can finally switch operators and retain their numbers more seamlessly, as Singapore prepares to turn on full mobile number portability capability.

From Jun. 13, subscribers looking to switch mobile operators can retain their current number and activate the service within the next working day.

Currently, mobile subscribers who switch service providers in Singapore hold two numbers so that calls to the old number are forwarded to the new one.

Singapore last year called for tender submissions to build a centralized database to facilitate full number portability across the local fixed-line and mobile market.

With full mobile number portability from June, mobile subscribers who change operators will be able to retain full use of their mobile number, which will also appear on their contacts' caller ID when they make calls or send text (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) messages. Subscribers will also continue receiving MMSes on their existing number from the previous mobile operator.

Pre-paid mobile subscribers can also retain their numbers when switching mobile operators.

Currently, Singapore's mobile subscription stands at more than 5.8 million.

Leong Keng Thai, IDA's deputy chief executive and director-general of telecoms, expects full mobile number portability to push mobile operators to work harder to attract and retain their customers.

"As we can expect to see more competitive pricing or better value-for-money mobile service deals, even those who choose to remain with their current mobile operator should benefit," Leong said. "We can expect even more exciting times ahead for our mobile market with full mobile number portability, and consumers will be the biggest winners."

IDA also expects full mobile number portability to open new business opportunities for non-traditional telecommunication service providers, such as wireless broadband providers and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers.

"Its centralized database infrastructure will be well-placed to facilitate the entry of new players and evolution of new capabilities and services in today's converged voice and data space," the ICT regulator said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is expected to implement mobile number portability during the first half of this year.