China will begin trials of mobile number portability in Tianjin from October following the completion of tests in the city, according to a local report.
The country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and relevant officials in Tianjin have held a meeting to discuss the number portability issue and submitted results from the tests to higher authorities, the ChinaTechNews.com reported on Tuesday. The MIIT is expected to unveil more details on the trial later this week.
The availability of mobile number portability is expected to increase competition among the three local mobile operators: China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.
Mobile number portability plans previously drawn up by the MIIT pointed to a three-year approach to the implementation, detailing specifics of when the rule can be applied. During the first year, for example, 2G and 3G mobile phone users can retain their mobile numbers when they switch from networks of more competitive operators to those of less competitive operators. In the following year, 2G users can do the same when they switch to any network of their choice.
In the third year, 3G users of China Unicom and China Telecom are allowed to keep their existing numbers after switching to other 3G networks but 3G subscribers from China Mobile will not be able to do so.
As of April 2010, the mobile subscriber base in China reached 766 million, according to a Reuters report.
China follows Asian neighbors such as Singapore and Malaysia, which rolled out their respective mobile number portability schemes in 2008.
In India, implementation of mobile number portability has met with several delays due to the complexity of the project. It was originally scheduled for Dec. 31, 2009 but was pushed back to Mar. 31 and again to Jun. 30. The Indian government has since announced that the service will now be launched by Oct. 31.