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Monday, 31 January 2011

Mobile Number Portability in the UAE; what'll drive you to change?

The moment a lot of us have been waiting for should be arriving shortly with the announcement that mobile number portability (MNP) will become a reality within the next few weeks.  MNP for those who are unsure what it is, basically allows you to switch from one telecoms carrier to other while maintaining your mobile phone number.  In essence, you own your number now, not the telecoms company (though how this transpires legally is to be verified still).

Stories about MNP coming soon have been floating about for years, especially since the advent of the second telecommunications provider in the country.  However, each and every time a timeframe was given, there was always some reason given for a delay.  Much to our delight, we were glad to see stories such as the one that appeared in The National recently that confirmed that a firm date for the transition to start is upon us.

Our discussions with one of the two telecommunication providers also confirms this and they are busy gearing up in the background for this.  Based on experiences many within our organization have seen in other countries, the introduction of MNP is normally one of the largest instigators for an improvement in calling rates and services a customer can expect.  How much we can expect rates to come down here is to be seen as this would require the involvement of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), but service for sure can be expected to improve.

With a lot of people expected to switch from one network to the other in the coming weeks, it'll be interesting to see how infrastructure the telecommunications companies has holds up.  Whereas earlier it was about managing voice traffic primarily through a mobile network, today the importance of data is probably what drives customers to switch from one network to the other.  Reliability, cost and speed of data connections will probably end up playing a big part as voice data can probably be taken for granted as being OK with both providers.

If you have the chance, think it through once.  If you have more than one number, try moving them one at a time to see how the network holds up and who knows, you may end up realizing you preferred your incumbent provider better.

Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics