The National Telecommunications Commission (the "NTC") passed a Regulation on Thailand's mobile number portability ("MNP"), which was announced in the Royal Gazette on 3 August 2009 and became effective the following day.
The Regulation will allow customers to switch between mobile operators while keeping their existing number.
To facilitate this, mobile operators have to mutually agree on an implementation strategy and invest in a clearing house to be operated as a consortium.
The porting process must be completed within three business days counted from the date of application. It includes verifying a user's number, checking the number status and other conditions which will be specified in a future guideline.
An operator may deny the application based on the following grounds:
i. the number was illegally acquired;
ii. national security reasons;
iii. the number is subject to a legal procedure, seizure or any lawful order; or
iv. other grounds as may be specified by future guidelines or regulations.
The new operator must notify customers of the details and procedures of the transfer and the applicable fee. It is also responsible for paying the monthly government fee for the ported mobile number from the month following the transfer. However, if a customer terminates the service after the transfer, the number shall be returned to the operator who was originally allocated the said number from the NTC.
Mobile operators must propose a joint policy setting out the details of conditions, transferring methods and preparation plans to the NTC within 30 days after the effective date of the Regulation. Once approved and finalised, this proposal will form the basis of a future NTC guideline.
MNP is scheduled to commence its service three months after the Regulation's effective date. However, various operators argue that the new service will require network upgrades, a clearing house to facilitate porting and several other arrangements that will take longer than three months to complete. They are therefore considering requesting for an extension from the NTC.
Changing numbers is a strong deterrent for switching operators. For some users, their mobile number is akin to their identity. To fight migration of subscribers to rival operators, which will be made easy by the MNP, operators have to concentrate not only on lowering their fees but also improving their quality of service. Certainly, the Regulation will encourage a new level of competitiveness among operators.
After the MNP is implemented, the NTC will study and analyse landline and geographic numbers portability, and prepare a proposal if feasible.
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