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MNP in Malaysia: Nationwide by October 2008

MNP in Malaysia has been hot on the lips of telcos recently as it is seen as a big shake up in the communication business. After a long wait, MCMC has finally confirmed that MNP or better known as Mobile Number Portability will kick off in the Klang Valley by September before it is implemented Nationwide by October.

What is MNP?
If you haven’t heard of it, MNP allows mobile subscribers to keep their mobile numbers including its prefix with them if they wish to switch to a different operator. Currently, there are 4 main operators in the country and the prefixes (010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019) are fixed with the registered operators.

If a user is a Maxis subscriber bearing 012-1234567, he/she won’t be able to bring this number with them when switching to a different operator. This has become a big barrier for consumers who wish to switch as mobile numbers tend to be a personal identity which many won’t want to lose.

Benefits of MNP
The main key benefits of MNP is that mobile subscribers can take their numbers with them regardless of mobile operator they subscribe to. This will break old traditions and creates a new telco environment where consumers have better freedom and control to change operators if they are not satisfied with their existing telco experience. Due to this new situation, mobile operators would need to improve on their services and package offering in order to sustain their existing subscribers. We believe there are millions if not hundreds of thousands of subscribers who wants to make the switch but aren’t willing to lose their number. Come October, it would be interesting to see how MNP would impact the subscriber figures of each respective mobile operator.

Hurdles of MNP
After knowing what MNP could benefit consumers, we would also need to be aware of the pitfalls or hurdles that would hamper the process of MNP. Firstly, we are still unclear on porting charges that may apply if a subscriber decides to switch from one operator and another. At this point of time, we have yet to hear any confirmation of such charges. According to the The Star, it was reported that the porting charges would be somewhere between RM20-RM25. In addition, it is also mentioned that a 3rd party clearing house called Talian Gerak Alih Sdn Bhd would act as a mediator for mobile number porting.

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On implementation, we haven’t seen anything concrete at this point and the validation time which we believe is the porting period is somewhere between six hours to 1 week. Usually for other MNP countries such as Australia, mobile operators could be penalised if a subscriber’s number fails to port to the new operator within the stipulated porting period.

It is also noted that some mobile plans have contracts which prohibits subscribers from terminating prematurely before the end of contract period. Before a subscriber decides to port out, they would need to check with their current contracts if such contract period applies.

Misconceptions on MNP
We have heard several misconceptions on MNP and here are some of them:

  1. If I own a Maxis line 012-1234567 and decide to move to Celcom, my new number would be 019-1234567
    It is unlogical and pointless if a subscriber is only moving his last 7 digit number number and losing his original prefix. Besides, this would also cause a conflict if there is already an existing celcom number with that same number.

    After MNP, If you own 012-1234567, your number with Celcom would also be 012-1234567. MNP allows you to bring your EXACT mobile number to any new operator.

  2. I can register a 018 with Maxis after MNP! No more prefixes!
    Not entirely true. At this point of time, there is no deregulation on the prefixes being offered. 018 is still issued by U Mobile, 012 & 017 by Maxis, 016 by DiGi, 013 & 019 by Celcom and 014 by various operators depending on number range.

    Perhaps in future, once MNP is implemented fully we might see new registration numbers starting from 01XXXXXXXXX and mobile operator bounded prefixes would be obselete.

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With MNP launch around the corner, it would be exciting to see what MCMC and the Malaysian mobile operators would announce in the next couple of weeks to come. Watch this space for more updates as SoyaCincau will give you the latest on the implementation of MNP.