Mobile Number Portability

Article

Mobile number portability is the voluntary process by which a client switches to another mobile service provider, often for a service more suited to their needs, while retaining their existing mobile phone number. In essence, the process seeks to enhance loyal competition among telecommunication services providers, and promote market participation.

Mobile number portability was introduced in Panama by means of Resolution AN 3064-Telco, dated November 11 2009. It was then brought into existence by November 29 2011, through Resolution AN 4805-Telco of October 5 2011, which amended the previously enacted regulation and made Panama the first in country in Central America to implement the mechanism.

Two years after the regulation’s enactment, the National Authority for Public Services (ASEP), put forward a public consultation process regarding a proposed modification to the Resolution. The main issue addressed was the length of time in which mobile phone equipment should be unblocked for the change of service providers. The proposed time, a maximum of eight hours from the request to unblock, was deemed unrealistic and impossible by the majority of providers, due to still-existing limitations in the market. The Authority, by means of Resolution AN 7797-Telco, of September 14 2014, denied the proposed modification. The state of affairs was such that the conditions necessary to proceed with the proposed modifications were not present.

Without a question, mobile number portability has come to the aid of telecommunications market participants, service providers and clients. The enacted regulation has promoted fierce competition that has allowed new companies to enter and survive in the market, by offering the best possible telecommunications service. From the client’s perspective, market competition based on cost-effectiveness and quality has made them the ultimate winners. According to closing figures for 2014, the legislation has allowed the trading of a 5.3% share of one of the most profitable markets in the country, highlighting Panama’s attractiveness to foreign investment.