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Phone push

Boyce wants number portability by next year

Telecommunications Minister Darcy Boyce says while Barbados currently ranks “high” in the Caribbean in terms of connectivity, his desire is to have it listed among the top ten countries in the world.

But instead of going the route of legislative change, Boyce announced today that the Freundel Stuart administration intended to utilize “moral suasion” over the course of the next 12 months, as it pushes “very hard” for number portability — a way for Barbadians to keep their telephone numbers even if they switch their provider.

“We will push number portability both for mobile phones as well as the fixed lines,” said Boyce, the Minister responsible for telecommunications in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Addressing the launch of a local Internet exchange point at the Hilton hotel, Boyce embarked on the process of “moral suasion” as he called on local providers Flow and Digicel to work out an arrangement on how number portability could be achieved, saying he would not have to resort to legislation or regulations.

The minister explained to the gathering, which included representatives of both telecoms companies, as well as other key industry stakeholders, that while regulation would still be necessary “it would be lovely if the regulations that we do are regulations that are agreed upon by all, and are agreed upon fairly soon”.

Number portability has already been launched in the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Dominican Republic.

Insisting that Barbados must not be left behind, Boyce said his ministry would be making a greater effort this year to try “to get the regulators of telecommunication services to do more talking with each other and maybe more cooperation with each other.

“We are going to try to get the regulators to look at some potential memorandum of understanding so that we can work together and so that we can remove any chance of regulatory arbitrage between the countries in the region.

“This is in line with what the heads of government [of the Caribbean Community] have approved about three or four years ago to create a single ICT space in the region,” noted Boyce.

Government’s position on number portability was immediately welcomed by telecommunications analyst Hallam Hope who told Barbados TODAY it would be a big benefit, especially for small business owners who use their mobile phone to conduct business.

“Many of us in business or as customers we have invested a lot in that number so we are not inclined to move it because we have it for many years and people know that number by heart,” acknowledged Hope.

However, he said it was yet to be determined what impacts it was likely to have.

“So it is that benefit to the society in terms of competition, but like everything else the question is what are the details, will there be cost to the consumer, how soon would your number be able to be ported from one service provider to another?” he asked.

4 Responses to Phone push

  1. Tony Webster February 27, 2016 at 5:33 am

    Agree 100% , Sir!!!!!!!!! Go for it, Sir.

    While at it, please look at “Administration Portability”…a means of recalling administrations ( even if limited to specific Honourable Members and not necessarily wholesale baby-and-bathwater issues) who do not “answer promptly” when complaints are aired….and a “switch’ is urgently required.

    Same thing, right?

  2. Niel Harper February 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Is this a joke? Why are we even talking about Local Number Portability (LNP)?

    It is an established fact that LNP is relatively expensive to implement and in actual fact has a negative financial impact on operators. LNP increases churn of customers, increases baseline costs for customer acquisition and retention, and reduces ARPU (average revenue per user) as competitive tariff plans will have to be offered (while it does provide some benefits for customers in the near term, it provides a challenge to providers iwith regards to longer term sustainability and profitability, and can lead to reduced income).

    Not only that, what are the net benefits to consumers of being able to keep their old number? The vanity benefits alone are not reason enough to push through a LNP initiative. Surveys from other jurisdictions will show that the net effect of LNP is practically negligible.

    The main prerequisites that a country should have in order to introduce LNP are competing operators and a sufficiently large subscriber base. We have a functional duopoly with Flow and Digicel, and a relatively small and marginally profitable customer base.

    Policy decisions and legislative enhancements should be focusing on more important topics such as stronger regulatory powers to prevent significant market power (monopolies), merging the Fair Trading and Telecoms Unit into a more cohesive and effective regulating function, training of regulatory staff, full deployment and net benefits from the IXP, finalizing the implementation of CERT (cybersecurity response) capabilities, increasing competitiveness and reducing the cost of fixed broadband, safeguarding net neutrality, and protecting consumer interests.

  3. parts February 27, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    sigh. Allowed a merger which basically “monopolized” the telecommunications industry, with customers no better than they were before the merger, and even this could not be pat of the mandate for the merger to be approved. If you wish to retain the number, you must be prisoner of this extremely poor service provider.

    Third political party is so needed, or at least a change of these same ol ones.

  4. J. Payne February 28, 2016 at 5:12 am

    @Tony… Sorely needed alongside any legislation to remove the Queen. If a constituency can bring a petition that is signed by 51% of constituents saying they want a new representative in Parliament they should be able to void the current and goto the polls to have a replacement.


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