All 10 digits can be retained

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After the implementation of the number portability system, users can retain all 10 digits of their mobile number when switching telecommunication service providers, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, an official from TRCSL, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that consumers could retain all 10 digits of their mobile number instead of changing the first four digits, as announced a few days ago, when switching from one service provider to another.

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“Through this decision, the level of competition among the telcos will increase, as now customers will have the choice to change the service provider as they prefer without changing any of the digits of their mobile number,” the official said.

Adding further, the official mentioned that the TRCSL was currently in the process of implementing the requirements needed in consultation with the operators and that the facility would be available for consumers by May 2022.

On 14 October, TRCSL Director General Oshada Senanayake announced that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa granted permission to the TRCSL to proceed with number portability implementation in Sri Lanka.

In August, Senanayake told us that the TRCSL was in the process of finalising the legalities and was waiting to formalise the legal structure, which would hopefully be approved by the relevant authorities within the next few months.

“We are waiting to finish the legal structure. However, the implementation work will only start next year due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation. Upto now, we have overcome the challenges and, on a positive note, everything is sorted out. Apart from the challenges posed by Covid-19, we are moving ahead strongly,” Senanayake highlighted.

Accordingly, the public consultation paper in this regard – which is a formality arrangement – was released in January, and the TRCSL started receiving feedback on it from mid-February onwards.

Likewise, in January, Senanayake told us that the necessary technical side work was being done at the time, while the interconnection of rate methods and systems was pending completion.

According to Senanayake, the toughest part was getting the consent of all mobile service providers. “All telecommunication (telco) providers had already agreed in principle. In fact, last year, in the last quarter of 2020, they published their own statements that they are looking forward to collaborating on this initiative,” he added.

Number portability, which enables the switching of mobile and fixed line numbers across competing service providers, is a customer facility widely practised internationally and is a key facet of a liberalised telecommunications market.

This service was introduced as early as in the mid-1990s in Hong Kong, the US, Canada, and Europe and also in several developed Asian countries such as Singapore in 1997 and Pakistan in 2006.

Given its presence in the market for many years, it is clear that this type of service is hardly a new feature in the telecom industry. As of today, number portability has been adopted in more than 60 developed countries with mature telecom markets.

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