Paulwell promises number portability by December

Paulwell promises number portability by December

BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter

Sunday, June 17, 2012

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AMIDST the intensification of the rivalry between the country's two providers of mobile phone service, Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell is indicating that number portability will be a reality in Jamaica by December.

Number portability allows the owner of a mobile phone to switch from one service provider to another, while keeping the same phone number.

Paulwell's disclosure came shortly after service provider LIME slashed its mobile telephone rates by as much as two-thirds, in a bid to woo customers and shore up its performance.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer, Paulwell described LIME's rate reductions as good news for consumers and suggested that Jamaicans should brace for even greater benefits as the battle for space heats up. "It means you can anticipate a period of very hectic and fierce competition," Paulwell said.

Regarding number portability, Paulwell said discussions are underway to determine the best mechanism to manage the process.

"The law that we passed recently allows now for number portability to be effected, and we intend to have that done during the course of this calendar year, and it gives me, the minister, powers to effect it, and right now I am working with a team to make sure that we have the right systems in place," he said.

"There has to be an infrastructure that would allow for the customer to seamlessly move from one network to another," he added.

The minister explained that there will be some costs associated with creating and monitoring the system, but said those costs will have to be shared by the service providers.

The latest developments in the mobile market followed the passage of amendments to the Telecommunications Act last month.

The amendments facilitated the move to number portability, and also gave the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) the authority to set the termination rate that the providers should pay each other for cross-network calls.

Both LIME and Digicel had been at odds over the termination rate, as LIME had accused its competitor of charging far too much for calls terminating on its network.

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