ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has finally approved number portability that will allow customers to switch between operators with their existing phone number, the regulator said.
The move has been in the pipeline for years, and will be implemented by May 2022, the Telecommunications Regulations Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) said. Originally scheduled for last year, it was delayed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The regulatory has informed all the communication service providers to set up a clearing house.
“Now we have all the legal work in place and we called all mobile service providers last Monday to give the green light, for them to make the clearing house,” Oshada Senanayake, Director General of TRCSL told a PMD media brief.
A clearing house is a central data base used to map the numbers. TRCSL has taken the best practices used in Pakistan for this purpose.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Regulatory Commission too had supported TRCSL in making number portability possible, Senanayake said.
“Now it is in the hands of the telecommunication Industry. I have signed all the approvals for the CEOs. We believe by next week we can complete it,” said Senanayake.
The service providers will also form an association to set up the clearing house, the TRCSL statement said.
“Only the technical part is remaining. This will have all the security for consumers and the quality of service will also be higher. We only have to give the Section 17 license for these companies,” Senanayake said.
The TRCSL chief added that this will push telcos to provide high-quality services as they will be unable to block a consumer’s number because he or she moved to a different service provider.
The current system io is a ‘strategic locking’, he said.
“One of the problems that we face is after we stay with on mobile communication provider for some time, even if the service is good or bad we cannot go to another provider because we can’t lose the number we are using. Because that has become an ID for us,” Senanayake said.
“This is something we have to unlock from the customer’s side. It is very important for consumer rights as well,” he said.
In August 2020, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile operator Dialog Axiata Plc welcomed an announcement by the regulator that the island will move towards number portability.
“We are very happy to see the TRCSL moving forward with the next steps in the liberalization of our industry and we congratulate the TRCSL for initiating the process of implementing number portability in Sri Lanka,” Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata Plc said in a statement.
“The success and growth of the Company would not have been possible if not for our customers exercising their choice.
“Open competition and customer choice is at the root of our success and is a paradigm we deeply respect.”
Number portability has also led to stronger price competition in other markets industry analysts say. (Colombo/Oct14/2021)