However, subscriber numbers which do not have accurate individual information are not permitted to switch to a new network, according to Nguyen Duc Trung head of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority.
Trung said the mobile number portability (MNP) service allowed subscribers to switch their numbers to other networks if these networks have better quality service or coverage network. This was an effective tool that has been conducted in many countries. It was also commitment of Vietnam after it joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Currently, the authority has been implementing procedures to develop a circular to instruct service providers to carry out the service and it expects to begin in early 2017. This service also aims to encourage mobile subscribers to register accurately their individual information.
During a meeting late 2015 conducted by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), Deputy Minister Pham Hong Hai said that many countries had so far carried out the mobile number portability. Therefore, Vietnam must apply this service to ensure benefit for subscribers.
This would also require operators to always ensure their service quality and take care of customers once the mobile phone market has reached saturation levels.
By doing so, the MIC has decided that Viettel, Mobifone and Vinaphone, the three largest mobile network operators, will apply the MNP first.
A representative of the authority said that subscribers will be able to retain all their subscriber numbers when shifting to use other networks.
For example, Viettel’s subscribers with current numbers 098xxxxxxx, 097xxxxxxx, 096xxxxxx will retain unchanged their numbers when becoming VinaPhone’s subscribers.
Similarly, MobiFone’s subscribers with current subscription numbers 090xxxxxxx and 093xxxxxxx will keep the same numbers when they become Vettel’s subscribers.
As such, when MNP is applied, the mobile network operators’ brands will no longer be shown by the first prefix numbers (091, 093, 098…). The subscription numbers starting with 091 are reserved for VinaPhone subscribers, while the numbers starting with 098 are reserved for Viettel’s subscribers.
Le Huu Hien, Deputy General Director of Viettel Telecom said Viettel had established a steering committee on mobile number portability. The operator was ready to implement the new service. Viettel has also applied this service for subscribers in some market abroad.
A representative of the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group said its network has been ready to carry a test run of the plan.
MobiFone said it was ready to run a test as required by the MIC. Meanwhile, Vietnammobile requested that the trial be delayed for it to complete technical preparations.
Vietnam has seven mobile network operators with more than 120 million subscribers in total. Each of the operators has their own number series, Viettel’s numbers, for instance, start with 098 and MobiFone, 090. Currently, users have to switch to a new number if they choose a new network.
Analysts said that once the mobile phone market reaches saturation level, it is necessary to offer subscribers the option of switching to another service provider to facilitate competition.