OREANDA-NEWS. June 18, 2013. Thanks to the pro-competition vision of the MCIT, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) will soon be a reality in Azerbaijan. No longer will customers be trapped by their old number instead they will be able to take their number (including operator code e.g. 050) to their mobile network provider of choice, bringing the benefits of better tariffs and customer choice to the market. According to experts, Mobile Number Portability is to be launched in Azerbaijan during coming days and will serve as the start of a new development stage in the telecommunication market of the country. 

MNP is the ability to change mobile service provider without changing phone number; thus customers will have the ability to shift from one mobile operator to another one without changing their mobile number. MNP is destined to play an important role in creating a new wave of competition, and particularly in the race for the quality and availability of services provided by operators.

The main reason for subscribers to change their operator is to find the best offer (price, service, network, etc). Research shows the main reasons for subscribers unwillingness to change their subscription numbers are customers using services of a certain operator only due to the fact that a number was purchased long ago, and known to their close ones and colleagues.  Introduction of MNP will be able to eliminate such inconvenience.

Number Portability implies full migration of a subscribers number along with operators prefix (050,051, 055, 070 and 077).  Introduction of MNP will let customers keep their phone number in case of changing the operator, which will free them from a necessity to notify their relatives and business partners about the number change. MNP provides a freedom of choice and oriented mainly towards the consumers. One of the main aspects is that the service should be launched by all three operators at the same time.

Players of the mobile communications market agree that the application of MNP will serve the interests of the customers. The world practice indicates that usually there is no mass exodus of subscribers after the launch of the MNP, and the service is used by around 20 percent of subscribers.

The introduction of this service is undoubtedly not in the interests of those operators, who are afraid of losing a certain portion of their customer base. We are certain that this service will serve the interests of customers, and will be quite beneficial for us as a company, says Bakcell CTO Yigit Berktash.

Discussions about the application of MNP in mobile networks of Azerbaijan are carried out since the year 2008.

Bakcell was the first company to start preparation for the introduction of MNP by implementing the new 10-digit dialing, by applying our 055 prefix before the number for making on-net calls in the beginning of 2012.  Bakcell is confident that the launch of MNP will increase competition in the Azerbaijani mobile communications market.

Bakcell CEO Richard Shearer states that from technical point of view, Bakcells network is ready and passed all internal testing to implement MNP.
 Other markets experience clearly indicates that providing customers with increased options for choice leads to greater competition and customer benefit. We expect a lot a number of customers who have been trapped with their old number to migrate to Bakcell. We have consistently been rated top network in testing for both 2G and especially for our ultrafast Sur@ 3G network. Bakcell expects to be a net gainer from MNP thus continuing to strengthen its market position, adds Mr. Shearer.

World's first MNP service was launched on the telecommunications market in South-East Asia in 1997, and then this example was followed by the Netherlands, UK and other countries. Since 2003, the legislation of each member state of the European Union must support MNP.

The experience of countries where MNP service was introduced shows that the service is being implemented gradually.  Depending on demand, this process can last for two to three years.

Mobile number portability dramatically increases the competition between mobile service operators as subscribers are now free to easily select the service from a variety of suppliers most suited to the subscriber's changing needs. MNP empowers subscribers to change their mobile service provider to benefit the subscriber.  Following the introduction of mobile number portability there was a rush of subscribers to satisfy their pent-up demand to change operators, says John O'Brien, Managing Director, Whitesmiths (Sydney, Australia) software company that was intimately involved in the design and implementation of the Australian MNP service which is acknowledged as one of the most successful implementation worldwide.

According to John O'Brien, within six months of the introduction of mobile number portability the migration of customers between carriers stabilized. Over ten years on, it is taken for granted in Australia subscribers will select the best offering for them, regardless of their incumbent mobile operator. Mobile number portability was the catalyst for all mobile operators in Australia to develop a raft of new product offerings to both existing and new subscribers.

The launch of mobile number portability services in Azerbaijan is expected in the coming weeks.