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Phone number portability a breakthrough for mobile users

WATCH out mobile phone users. September 25 marks the single biggest event in Australian mobile history, the introduction of number portability, according to the Telstra manager charged with overseeing the event.

In Perth last week to brief staff on the changes, Telstra executive general manager for mobile number portability, Chris Hansen, said there would be a flurry of market activity before and after the date as customers changed carriers but were able to keep their old numbers.

“There’ll be a lot of activity in the market, with various operators seeking to obtain customers and other operators seeking to attract them to their service,” Mr Hansen said.

“But I must say, that happens today. The mobile industry in Australia is extremely competitive and it has the highest number of participants, in terms of market share, in the world.”

He believed number-sensitive business people, such as contractors, would benefit most from the introduction of number portability.

“I think it is fair to say that a lot of business customers, the sort of people who rely on their mobile numbers quite heavily and are on the road a lot, have in the past found it extremely difficult and inconvenient when having to change their service providers,” Mr Hansen said.

“They’ve had to change their stationery, the number on the side of their van and they’ve got to tell their business associates of their new mobile number.

“But some customers aren’t number sensitive and the way they use their mobile they may only have to tell a number of people if they switch service providers. The inconvenience ranges from minimal to quite an impact.”

The Australian Communications Authority and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission originally slated number portability for introduction in March this year. However, the industry advised the regulatory bodies they would be unable to implement the infrastructure solution and functionality in time.

Mr Hansen said Telstra was rolling out the network infrastructure on behalf of the carriers.

He said the network currently was undergoing industry testing and would be ready for the September 25 deadline.

“It is a large project and there are issues to be managed, but the deployment of infrastructure is on track and the testing is on track,” Mr Hansen said.

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