Author : Aftab Ahmed
From : Gilgit
Occupation : M.Engg Student in Mehran Engineering University
The Mobile Number Portability system was implemented in Pakistan in March 2007 and this was a first MNP execution in South Asia.
The MNP system provides an excellent opportunity to the cellular subscriber to change Network without changing the MSISDN(Mobile Number),and thus allows flexibility with respect to tariff plans,SMS Packages & other services.
PTA has been mandated to promote and protect the interests of users of telecom services in Pakistan, by proving them viable alternatives to the users and to “promote a wide range of high quality, efficient, cost effective and competitive telecommunication services throughout Pakistan; and promote rapid modernization of telecommunication services and systems”.
When the Government of Pakistan realized that subscribers were averse to switching networks since they could not retain their numbers, in order to boost competitiveness and establish market conditions, the MNP regime was established under the watchful eye of PTA.
Pakistan MNP Database Ltd. is responsible for MNP implementation in accordance with Mobile Number Portability Regulations 2005, and it was formed in October 2005 and all six cellular operators in Pakistan are members of the company.
With the bulk of the customers on GSM (as per current PTA data, the number of subscribers have increased to 100 million plus), MNP has just focused on mobile service operators.
Given the fact that at least for fixed line numbers, customer have no options other than PTCL and for wireless local loop operators, the bulk of the customers are again on PTCL, with a total subscriber base of approximately 2.76 million subscribers, as per figures provided by PTA, it seems unlikely that MNP for WLL will catch the attention for PTA anytime soon.
Same is the case with SCO (Special communication Organization),operating in Gil-Baltistan and Kashmir, that no one can port SCO/wll and SCOM number to and from any other network in the country.
on talking possibilities of taking WLL/LL operators onboard, it said there no such thing in their to-do-list for now. However, one can expect these WLL/LL operators to offer MNP as well, maybe in distant future.
Another factor which will also weigh-in, is the fact that any MNP solution will not be cheap and all relevant stakeholders will need to be convinced that it is cost effective, and that at the end of the day, will actually bring benefit to the customers and that the customers will port WLL numbers.
Whether the concerned stakeholders i.e. the regulator & the companies can be convinced to take this next logical step is another question altogether albeit a number of SCO/WLL & SCOM subscribers are probably waiting in GilGit-Baltistan & Kashmir to avail this facility.
(Thanks to the courtesy of Pro-Pakistani)