Snapshot: 2015 update on number portability in the Caribbean

An update of our 2014 review of the status of on number portability in the Caribbean

Number portability (NP), the feature implemented by telecoms companies that allows subscribers to retain their numbers independent of the service providers they use, is considered one of the hallmarks of a maturing telecoms sector. In previous years, NP received considerable attention in the Caribbean, leading a number of countries to embark on the implementation process. In 2012, we prepared our first Snapshot on the subject, and updated it last year. In this article, we revisit the issue to determine how much progress, if any has been made.

Update on countries that have implemented NP

Since our review of NP in the Caribbean in February 2014, not much has changed in the past year Table 1. The ECTEL Member States (Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, which in our previous Snapshot were reported to have commenced the process, are still not at a stage where portability can be launched.

Table1: Status of NP across select Caribbean countries as at February 2015 (Sources: regional newspapers, regulator websites, industry publications, government papers and reports)
Table1: Status of NP across select Caribbean countries as at February 2015 (Sources: regional newspapers, regulator websites, industry publications, government papers and reports)

However, Trinidad and Tobago has stated that fixed to mobile NP will commence on May 1, 2015 (Source: The Guardian). Jamaica, which has experienced considerable delays, in that launching NP, stated in December 2014 that it will be launched by 31 May 2015 (Source: Jamaica Information Service).

The long hard grind…

As stated in our 2014 Snapshot, NP can be a protracted and challenging process. Frequently, its successful implementation requires a number of players to cooperate and collaborate to, among other things, develop and agree upon a NP framework and procedures; to modify their networks to support porting; and to procure the needed equipment.

The support and cooperation of incumbent carriers is critical to the process. They tend to perceive themselves as having the greatest to lose when NP is implemented, as frequently they have large market shares, and to varying degrees, numerous disgruntled customers who they believe are anxious to take their numbers and business elsewhere.

In summary, there has been no significant change in the number of Caribbean countries that has launched NP since 2014. Almost half of the countries examined are in the process of implementing it, though Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, at last report, ought to launch it by May 2015.

 

Image credit: plenty.r (flickr)

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