IDA Enhances Number Portability Regime To
Mobile and Fixed Line Markets Set for Greater
The Infocomm Development Authority of
Singapore (IDA) will enhance the Number Portability1 regime
here so that consumers can benefit from greater choice and flexibility
in mobile and fixed line services.
From the fourth quarter of 2007, consumers
can switch between telecoms service providers easily and yet have full
use of their existing number, rather than having to update family
members, friends and business contacts about a new one.
Beyond that, the new solution will spell
greater competition among the telecoms service providers and business
opportunities in Singapore's telecoms market.
Currently, mobile subscribers can switch
telecoms service providers and keep their numbers. But he gets in
essence a call-forwarding service as a call to his old number is routed
to his new one. His contacts will see only this new number when he makes
out-going calls and sends messages (SMS).
The drawback with this is that their
recipients see an unrecognisable new number and may even ignore the
calls or SMSes. He is also not able to receive MMSes on his original
number with such a solution.
Under a true Number Portability
regime, these inconveniences and limitations will be eliminated.
Consumers will only use one number, no
matter how many times he changes telecoms service providers. This
reduces or cuts out barriers that presently deter consumers from
switching telecoms service providers. Such a move will also keep
the Singapore telecoms market keenly competitive and relevant to
future market developments.
IDA Deputy Chief Executive and
Director-General (Telecoms) Leong Keng Thai said: "A telephone
number has become a highly personal item, as consumers treasure
the numbers they have shared with long-time business associates,
friends and family. Being able to keep the number means
convenience, while allowing a consumer to enjoy the choices the
liberalised Singapore telecoms market offers. Telecoms service
providers in turn could offer more compelling reasons to attract
new customers or keep their existing customers."
The move is timely as Singapore's
iN2015 infocomm masterplan2 is being implemented. With
iN2015's plans for a Next Generation National Infocomm
Infrastructure, new capabilities and services, such as services
and networks inter-operability and location-based services, are
A true Number Portability regime will
be well-placed to support the evolution of such next-generation
needs. It may also encourage new business possibilities in the
converged voice and data space, for new players, including
The three key changes to the present regime,
in place since April 19973, are:
a. IDA will introduce a common centralised
database approach4 for operators to provide
number portability for fixed line services, post- and pre-paid mobile
services. This is a more robust, effective and efficient approach in the
long run5. The centralised database will be
independently-run and open access;
b. One number is all consumers will have when they switch between mobile
service providers. Switching between mobile operators should also take
about one day, compared with five days currently for a switch;
c. Fixed line operators must stop recurring monthly porting service
charges. Consumers who want to port their fixed line telephone number to
a new fixed line service provider will need pay only a one-time
administrative charge to them. Mobile service providers stopped such
recurrent charges in June 2003.
Operators will have to enhance their number
portability solution by the fourth quarter of 2007.
This enhancement will include appointing a
neutral centralised database administrator by IDA, developing this
database, and upgrades in operators' networks and provisioning systems.
www.ida.gov.sg Media Release 2
True Number Portability from 4th
02 Aug 2006 - IDA issues decision to enhance Number Portability
By September/October 2006 - IDA issues Request for Proposal
By December 2006/January 2007 - IDA appoints a Centralised
From fourth-quarter 2007 - Singapore enjoys true Number
IDA's decision follows a public review last
September of the number portability solutions for mobile and fixed line
services. Thirty-six members of the public and 10 industry players made
submissions. Consumers expressed unequivocal support of the proposed
enhancements. They consider it a timely move and look forward to the
freedom to switch.
Their sentiments were echoed in the findings
of a Consumer Awareness and Satisfaction Survey6,
commissioned by the IDA last year.
Most of the respondents said being able to
keep their number is a critical consideration when switching telecoms
service providers. Of those who switched or considered switching but did
not, many said that the high one-time administrative charge, having
two-numbers and the inability to receive MMS on their original number
after porting were key deterrents.
IDA also commissioned a cost-benefit
analysis earlier this year, which showed the benefits of the new number
portability solution will outweigh the implementation costs over the
Following today's decision, the IDA will
establish a Number Portability Working Committee. That group will
comprise IDA, the service providers and other relevant parties such as
the Centralised Database Administrator after its appointment. Together,
they will oversee the implementation of true Number Portability.
Mr Leong said: "IDA's decision will ensure
that it continues to effectively serve the infocomm market, facilitate
market entry, and promote further competition and developments."
More details on IDA's decision on the review
of the number portability solutions for both fixed line and mobile
services can be found at IDA's website, in the sections "Policy &
Regulation", "Consultation Papers".
ISSUED BY CORPORATE & MARKETING
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
Notes to Editor:
Number Portability is the ability for telephone users to retain their
current telephone numbers, when they switch from one telecom service
provider to another telecoms service provider.
Intelligent Nation 2015, or iN2015, is Singapore's sixth and latest
infocomm masterplan. Its vision is to transform the country into an
Intelligent Nation, A Global City, powered by infocomm by the year 2015.
It was launched on 20 June 2006, by Minister for Information,
Communication and the Arts Lee Boon Yang, at the annual Infocomm Media
Business Exchange, or imbX.
A Brief History of Number Portability in Singapore:
April 1997: Singapore introduced Mobile Number
Portability via a Call Forwarding solution
April 2000: Fixed-Number Portability introduced, along
with the start of the liberalisation of Singapore's telecoms market
June 2003: IDA tells Mobile Operators to stop recurring
monthly porting fees and to provide SMS portability
August 2006: IDA issues decision to enhance Number
4Q 2007: Singapore to have true Number Portability
Singapore was one of the first in the world when it offered consumers
number portability in 1997. That solution has served the mobile market
well. However, better number porting technology has since become more
readily available and cost-effective to deploy, such that other
countries have leveraged it to enhance their own telecoms market. The
United States of America, most European countries and South Africa have
adopted the Central Database approach. In the Asia-Pacific, Australia,
Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia have also, or are planning for such a
database in their markets.
Call Forwarding is the current method used to connect a caller to a
ported mobile subscriber. Calls are first routed to the ported mobile
subscriber's previous operator. The previous operator, upon checking its
own database, will forward this call to the ported mobile subscriber's
new operator, which would then complete the call. With a Central
Database system, the Originating Operator will directly check that
repository of numbers, which has information on ported numbers, and
connect a call to the ported mobile subscriber's new operator. This is
deemed more efficient and importantly, beneficial for the telecom sector
in the long run as it can better support more complex routings expected
from the next-generation services and applications.
The Consumer Awareness & Satisfaction Survey 2005 measured usage and
awareness of, and satisfaction with selected telecoms services in
Singapore. In total, 1,500 individuals were interviewed between 22
October and 5 December 2005. They were selected through a two-stage
stratified design: (a) A sample of 1,500 households were selected from
the Household Sampling Frame maintained by the Department of Statistics;
and (b) An individual was then selected from this sample for the survey.
Using the current situation as the baseline case, the new true number
portability Centralised Database solution could result in an estimated
direct net economic gain of S$34m to S$240m to the economy over 10
years. This is based on conservative estimates of about 5% and 10%
annual MNP porting rate. The estimated cost of the Centralised Database
stands at S$10m or less. Estimates of the full implementation costs,
including database integration will be determined once the RFP is
About Infocomm Development Authority of
The Infocomm Development Authority of
Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global
infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing
infocommunications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive
telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with
programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For
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