What is number portability?
Number Portability refers to the ability of a subscriber to retain their telephone number after leaving one service provider and, thereafter, utilising that same number with a new service provider. ‘Porting’ is a reference to the process by which the telephone number is transferred from one service provider to another.
Number portability is generally deemed a welcome development in the markets into which it is introduced. It encourages better quality-of-service standards from service providers and studies tend to conclude that the presence of number portability in a market typically correlates with higher average internet speeds.
For consumers, number portability means maintaining a phone number for reasons beyond mere vanity. For instance, the identity verification processes of most modern digital platforms often require multi-factor authentication. The consumer’s ability to maintain the same number is, therefore, a critical aspect of personal online security. The ability to port a telephone number now means a consumer may opt for a better service provider without losing access to critical online services. Portability also translates to the potential for shifting service providers’ networks (almost) with one’s customer’s and personal contacts experiencing limited communication downtime when contacting you via the recently ported number.
Existing number portability framework
Jamaica introduced number portability in July 2015. The legal framework for supporting number portability consists of the:
- Telecommunications Act;
- Office of Utilities Regulation Act;
- Telecommunications (Number Portability) Rules, 2014 (the “Rules”);
- Code of Practice for Number Portability approved by the Office of Utilities Regulation on June 19, 2015 – Document Number 2015/TEL/007/APD.001) (the “Code”); and the
- Industry Number Portability Guidelines (the “INPG Guidelines”)
Changes to the number portability guidelines
Last week, several adjustments to the approach in the current INPG Guidelines were published following a review. According to the Office of Utilities Regulation – the telecoms regulator for Jamaica:
The review considered, among other things, the need to improve the efficiency of the porting process, as well as to include additional consumer safeguards against unauthorised or inappropriate porting transactionsOUR, Jamaica
The changes are detailed in a recently published document from the OUR: The “Review of the Number Portability Framework – Industry Number Portability Guidelines” (Quite a mouthful. I’ll just go with “Updated Guidance”).
Per the Updated Guidance, some of the notable changes to the Jamaican number porting process include:
- the porting request form must now include more pertinent particulars, including: (I) the name and signature of the telephone company’s representative undertaking the validation process; and (ii) where the porting process was initiated;
- the porting request form can now be in a digital format;
- porting process requests can now be initiated from an expanded number of locations in Jamaica; and
- even if the donor service (the telephone company that the customer is taking their number from) doesn’t send the relevant authorisation information within a reasonable timeframe, the clearinghouse administrator (the entity responsible for coordinating the porting of numbers) will have the ability, nonetheless, to progress the porting request.
The Updated Guidance is the output of the first of three phases of activity geared towards updating the number portability framework in Jamaica. The second and third phases will consider changes to the Rules and the Code of Practice, respectively.
A copy of the Updated Guidance can be viewed below: