150 million people have kept phone numbers when switching provider

29 Oct 2008

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Around the world, some 154 million mobile subscribers have kept their original mobile number when changing operator.

In Ireland, it is estimated that 22pc of people who changed mobile provider have kept their original number.

Irelandwas one of the earliest countries to adopt number portability and it is seen as a key instrument in enabling competition in the market.

However, number portability is an instrument that requires regulatory intervention and by September mobile number portability was available in 48 countries.

A primary advantage of mobile number portability (MNP) is the ability of consumers to select a new mobile service provider without inconvenience or disruption to friends, family or business contacts.

For businesses, this is an especially attractive feature, eliminating the expense of updating stationery, business cards or other collateral that contain a mobile phone number.

The biggest disadvantage of MNP is perceived to be the cost, which several countries have cited as the reason for not implementing MNP.

The majority of MNP implementations have been in Europe, where the European Union has mandated the introduction of MNP. Most high-income nations in other regions have also implemented MNP.

Few developing nations have MNP. China and India, home to the world’s two largest mobile markets, have yet to introduce MNP. Hong Kong, where statistically every mobile subscriber has ported their mobile telephone number at least once, has the world’s highest MNP implementation.

The top 10 countries by mobile number ports as a percentage of mobile subscribers are Hong Kong, 115pc; Finland, 65pc; Norway, 60pc; Korea, 55pc; Denmark, 41pc; Spain, 30pc; Australia, 28pc; Sweden, 25pc; Ireland, 22pc; and Iceland, 18pc.

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com