My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff

Friday, July 20, 2012

Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff

Telecom Provider Digicel is calling for MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as if their life depended on it as stated in the article “Cellphone number portability lagging”, published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

MNP (Mobile Number Portability) is already slated for a December 2012AD rollout as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer


Telecom Provider LIME, curiously enough, is apprehensive but supportive nonetheless, showing a willingness to get the process going as quickly as possible. Telecom Provider LIME is stating in effect that this should be the way it is in a properly run Telecom Sector as surmised from the article “LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Their Logic is that the world is going Mobile, both in terms of Voice and Data Services, to quote LIME Chairman Chris Dehring: “The reality is that the entire world is more attuned to mobile numbers than fixed line. If somebody wants to get into a business that is not growing globally, that is their purview”.

This after having shown to be sitting on the fence with regards to the issue for the past three (3) years since May 2009AD as stated in the article Mobile Firms divided on Mobile number portability” published Friday, 15 May 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner and summarized in my blog article entitledCLARO vs Digicel - Cross-Network Flat Rate Calling and MNP Cometh”.

So why the sudden about face by Telecom Provider Digicel? The reason can be seen in the content of their demand; MNP should also be extended to Fixed Line Mobil and Landline customers as well.

Telecom Provider Digicel appears to be doing like Telecom Provider LIME and making their voice heard by demanding an early rollout! This after having lost their appeal to have a judicial Review of the OUR’s powers to regulate Telecoms.

Telecom Provider Digicel also claimed a denial of Natural Justice in face of not being consulted by Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell as stated in the article Digicel loses bid to challenge new call rates set by OUR”, published Thursday July 12, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner andDigicel disappointed by court ruling” published Thursday July 12, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus it appears that Telecom Provider Digicel has effectively conceded defeat, as an Appeals process would drag on for more than three (3) years. Telecom Provider LIME, using sustained advertising and Promotional events, would re-acquire marketshare among a younger audience that has very little recollection of the formed persona of Telecom Provider LIME i.e. C&W Jamaica Ltd – before the Liberalization of the Telecoms Sector by then Minister of Technology and Commerce Phillip Paulwell.

But even more compelling is that by conceding the OUR position and pushing for MNP (Mobile Number Portability), Telecom Provider Digicel hopes to appease the Supreme Court in another more important case.

This as it relates to the case brought by the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) relating to America Movil – Digicel swap for the assets of CLARO Jamaica as analyzed in my blog article entitled “FTC wins right to pursue legal action against the Digicel-America Movil swap - Game of Thrones as Mobile Data Candyshop beckons

But what exactly is this MNP (Mobile Number Portability) that’s making the round in the Media? Simply put, it’s the ability to retain your phone number when switching Mobile Telecom Networks, with LNP being the Fixed Line Landline flavour. And it’s been around since 1997AD when Singapore first pioneered the concept.

In Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, the Dominican Republic went the MNP route in July 2009. MNP is now a de facto standard in some thirty three (33) countries including the United States, Australia and the MNP pioneer, Singapore.

Historically in Jamaica, LIME Jamaica Country Manager Geoff Houston, was the first person to publicly support MNP in May 2009AD as stated in the article “Mobile firms divided on number portability”, published Friday, 15 May 2009, the Daily Gleaner.

The logic at the time was that it would make it easier for Digicel customers to switch and become Telecom Provider LIME customers without having to change their number, the main impediment along with the cost of a new instrument Telecom Provider LIME regaining marketshare. Additionally MNP makes Telecoms Markets more efficient.

As instead of each Telecom Provider having their own set of numbers that are licensed only to their Network, the license is shared among the group of Telecom Providers and maintained in a central database, which makes it cheaper and easier to manage.

Then in November 2009AD, the OUR agreed…..sort of.

According to the article OUR signals policy shift on portability - Says Jamaica running out of phone numbers”, published Friday November 20, 2009 by, Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, then OUR Director General Ahmad Zia Mian, stated that MNP was a necessity as Jamaica had used up all of the eight million (8,000,000) phone numbers that were assigned to our LATA (Local Access Transport Area).

With only one million (1,000,000) phone numbers left to be assigned form the eight million (8,000,0000) set given to Jamaica since the Liberalization of the Telecoms sector in 2000AD, the NANP (North American Numbering Plan) demanded more efficiency in order for extra numbers to be provisioned.

This as it seemed odd that in a country with a population of 2.7 million people, we could have already burned through so many numbers as explained in my blog article entitled “Who among you Telecom Providers is without sin cast the first stone against MNP”.

This problem of a perceived “shortage” of mobile phone numbers appears to have dissipated, but the benefits to customers appears to have been glossed over by both Telecom Provider, who were mainly focused on increasing their marketshare.

So fast-forward again to 2012AD when the rates are falling from the skies as chronicled in no more than four (4) separate blog article of mine:


MNP rears its head yet again in a promise by Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell to have it in place by December 2012AD as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

However, this time the beneficiary is Telecom Provider Digicel, which in part explains why Telecom Provider LIME has not been clamouring for MNP as indicated by their response in the article LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This as with Cross Network Rates now at a  historic low of JA$5.00 plus the GOJ’s Pound of Flesh in the form of the taxes that brings it up to JA$6.99 as detailed in my blog article entitled “GOJ taxes Telecom Providers and OUR sets Cross Network and International Calling Rate at JA$5.00 - Data Services Prometheus.

Thus it makes very little difference to the customer, who is more influenced to switch to Telecom Provider LIME because of the lower rates than MNP. Additionally, MNP is mainly a creature of Postpaid Networks. Both Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel have mostly Prepaid customers consisting approximately 90% of their customer base!

If anything the lower On-Net, Cross Network and International Rates will boost Prepaid and Fixed Line Landline Services as well as Mobile Broadband Services as concluded based on statistics from the OUR for 2009 to 2010AD as per my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.

Telecom Provider LIME can also respond by expanding their Homefone Xpress Service islandwide to shore up their Fixed Line Mobile Services as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME Landline Rental Increase and HomeFone XPress - The Dead Zone is the Sum of All Fears.

The OUR numbers coupled with the recent and coming Regulatory changes in the Telecom Sector indicate a trending towards the convenience of Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Services and Postpaid as Jamaica’s population ages as concluded in  my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.

However, first trend that may be noticeable come December 2012AD is an increased purchased of Dual-SIM mobile phones to take advantage of Voice Calling Services Rates, such as those mane by Florida-based smartphone maker Plum as stated in the article “Who the heck is Plum Anyway?”, published May 11 2012 6:27 PDT, by Lynn La, CNET News .

This as despite the lower Cross Network Rates, many may wish to emulate their Postpaid counterparts by having the Best of Both worlds to switch between networks as they have a mind, albeit not keeping the same number!

But more interestingly MNP also lends itself to assisting the ISCF (Island Special Constabulary Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) aka the Jamaican Police to easily track and apprehend criminals as mentioned in my blog article entitled “Digicel's Sweetest Deal and Digicel Mobile 4G Launched - Challenge to LIME Talk EZ heralds Postpaid, MRSI via MNP and Cashless Society Renaissance”.

This as MNP is a precursor to MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information) that was introduced in 2010AD as per my blog article entitled “MNP and MRSI - How it leads to Mobile Number Portability and Crime Eradication in Jamaica and MNP and US Authorities - MRSI Bill to be passed to catch criminals

Telecom Provider CLARO had acceded to the GOJ’s request for MRSI as stated in the article CLARO Backs Cell Phone Tracking Plan; Digicel, LIME in Wait-And-See Mode”, published Sunday May 16, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, the Sunday Gleaner.
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