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Jamaicans will be able to retain their assigned mobile numbers across networks by as early as March 2014.

State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, made the announcement in his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on May 28.

He also informed that the drafting and gazetting of number portability rules should be completed by July of this year, while procurement of central database and order handing will be conducted from June to September.

A September to March 2014 timeline has been set for implementation and testing activities for network readiness, with training and updates scheduled for March to April 2014.

Mr. Robinson also highlighted a number of activities that have begun to advance the implementation of number portability. These include: stakeholder consultations with the telecommunications providers on October 12 last year, as well as with the general public on October 18.

Meanwhile, an informal Number Portability Working Group (INPWG) was convened with the main providers – Digicel, LIME and Flow – to ensure the successful implementation of number portability. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and the Office of Utilities Regulation also comprise the membership of the INPWG. Additionally, technical, business and commercial, and legal and regulatory sub-committees have been established

The State Minister informed that a draft request for proposal has been prepared by the technical subcommittee and is to be reviewed by the INPWG at its next meeting on June 6.

Number portability allows consumers to choose a service provider, based on service, quality, and price, rather than on a desire to retain a particular telephone number. It allows consumers to change service providers while avoiding the time, costs and risks associated with changing numbers; as well as promote competition by eliminating real or perceived barriers to customers switching service providers and thus makes it easier for entry into the market by new players.

Contact: Alphea Saunders