For discussion
on 12 April 1999

Legislative Council Panel on
Information Technology and Broadcasting

Implementation of
Mobile Number Portability


Since Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was implemented on 1 March 1999, customers of Public Mobile Radiotelephone Services (PMRS) and Personal Communications Services (PCS) are able to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing over to another mobile network of their choice. This removes the last significant barrier to freedom of consumer choice and effective competition in the market for PMRS and PCS.

Steps leading to implementation

2. Following a feasibility study and a cost-benefit analysis of MNP, the Telecommunications Authority (TA) issued a Statement on 9 June 1998, announcing the decision to implement MNP in Hong Kong.

3. On 28 August 1998, the TA issued a Direction to all fixed and mobile network operators requiring them to implement MNP service by 1 March 1999 and to comply with a code of practice on MNP issued by the TA. At the same time, the TA issued a number of technical specifications and a Statement on the cost-recovery framework related to the implementation of MNP.

4. In August 1998, an Implementation Task Force on MNP comprising representatives from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) and operators was set up to work out the detailed technical issues as well as the implementation and testing schedules of MNP systems. These systems include databases of fixed and mobile networks and a Central Ticketing System (CTS) for the orderly and fair processing of MNP applications. Based on the estimated demand for MNP services, the Implementation Task Force decided to set the capacity of the MNP systems at 5 000 applications a day.

5. From mid-January 1999 to the end of February 1999, all fixed and mobile network operators actively participated in the testing of their MNP systems. The tests included functional, stability and load tests of individual MNP systems as well as the integrated testing of the systems of all the operators. In view of the satisfactory results of these tests and drills, both OFTA and the industry considered that the launch of MNP service on 1 March 1999 was achievable.

6. To facilitate consumers' understanding of the MNP service, OFTA published a consumer information leaflet (at Annex 1) setting out some basic information on MNP and the procedures for obtaining MNP service. These leaflets are distributed to customers through operators' sale outlets and shops. In addition, OFTA held a press conference and attended media interviews to explain the details about MNP to the public. OFTA has also set up a telephone hotline (Tel. : 2961 6333) to answer public enquiries and handle complaints on the MNP service.

Initial results of implementation

7. The MNP service was successfully launched on 1 March 1999. Up to now, all the MNP systems have been working satisfactorily. Statistics on the implementation of MNP from 1 March 1999 up to 28 March 1999 are given in Annex 2. During this period, there were 88 116 successful number portings in total. The number of tickets obtained by operators each day from the CTS did not exceed the limit of 5 000 portings a day. The percentage of successful portings against the number of submitted applications was 91.2%. Among the 8.8% unsuccessful/rejected applications, 60% of them was due to incorrect/incomplete information or information not matching the customer records of the original network operators. The remaining 40% was due to the operators' inability to handle customers' applications in time. OFTA has urged operators to re-process the rejected applications as quickly as possible and ensure that the affected customers would be ported at the earliest time slot available.

8. From 1 March 1999 up to 28 March 1999, OFTA has received 826 general enquiries and 185 complaints from customers about the MNP service. Most of the complaints were about disruption of service after porting or delays in porting. OFTA has investigated all these complaint cases and requested the concerned operators to take immediate remedial actions so as to minimise the impact on customers. OFTA has not so far received any complaints about anti-competitive practices of the mobile network operators. Assessment

9. OFTA's assessment is that MNP has been implemented successfully and has achieved the desired objective. OFTA will continue to monitor the implementation of MNP closely and work with the industry to streamline the existing procedures so as to achieve better quality of service and a higher success rate for MNP.

Office of the Telecommunications Authority
March 1999