Qatar vows mobile number portability by year end
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Mobile customers in Qatar will soon be able to keep their phone numbers if they switch operators after it was reported mobile number portability will be introduced to the Gulf state within six months.
The country’s two telecom providers – Qtel and Vodafone – are working with regulator ictQATAR to introduce mobile number portability (MNP) by the end of the year in a bid to increase competition in the sector, it was reported by Gulf Times newspaper.
Many countries in the Gulf are pushing for MNP. In the UAE it has been delayed several times, with operators Etisalat and du missing the most recent deadline of September 2011.
Number portability would allow customers of du and Etisalat to switch providers and keep the same phone number. The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) had said portability would be available by mid-2008.
The TRA has been taking steps to boost competition in the UAE, considered the second-least competitive in the MENA region after Qatar, according to Nomura.
"Number portability in Oman and Saudi Arabia didn't have much impact on customer churn between operators and the same is likely to happen in the UAE," said Diala Hoteit, NBK Capital telecoms analyst.
"It will increase the level of competition, with operators more likely to match each other's offers, but in this region most people have more than one SIM card... so not many would permanently switch operator if number portability was introduced."
An infrastructure sharing deal so operators can compete in fixed line services is slated to be introduced by year-end, but has already been delayed.
Last week, du said TV would not be part of the initial agreement. Both operators already offer landline telephone, broadband and internet TV, but not in the same districts.