It’s confirmed – Singapore has incomplete number portability

July 7th, 2008 | by limbeer

Further to Alfred’s post on number portability in Singapore …

ST Forum has published IDA’s response to my original letter. The reason they provided for not mandating true number portability (I will define true number portability here as when you can indeed port a number to any plan – pre or post paid) is …

“This is in recognition that consumers would choose mobile services based on their needs (for example, pre-paid users usually prefer the flexibility of not being on a contract), and most would likely stay as a pre- or post-paid mobile customers when they switch providers.”

Which consumers wouldn’t “choose mobile services based on their needs”? I’m sure consumers can easily find out the features and benefits of pre and post paid plans, and will choose accordingly.

BUT the point is the consumer’s needs might change and hence their choice of a mobile service might change. E.g., student starts work, uses the mobile more and wants to go from pre paid to post paid. Or like me, I’m out of the country but do come back now and then and hence want to move my Singapore mobile number from post paid to pre paid.

By disallowing true number portability, this simply goes against the initial reason for implementing what IDA calls “full number portability” – which is to empower consumers with choice and presumably promote and liberalise the local telco market.

After spending all that money and man hours of going through a public tender to get a centralised database administrator to manage number portability, how much more trouble or cost will it incur to allow number portability across pre and post paid plans?

My understanding of the number portability system is that there is a centralised database administrator which simply maps out the mobile number to the telco. You call a number, it gets routed to through this database which then passes the call on to the respective telco’s network.

What really is the issue behind Singapore’s incomplete yet “full” number portability system?


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