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myReport: Is number portability even practical?

Published:Monday | June 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A new era has emerged in the local telecommunications industry with the arrival of local number portability for both landline and mobile users.

Many doubted that this would have materialised after a number of deadlines were missed for this policy to take effect; however, finally, Jamaican subscribers now have the option to switch networks and retain their numbers.

However, our reality in Jamaica is much different than in other jurisdictions where there are multiple players in the industry.

The fact is that there are only two dominant players in the local telecommunications industry offering mobile and fixed-line services to subscribers.

As a result, this puts a damper on the choice of local subscribers to switch providers.

Both dominant players offer similar services. Both telecoms providers are affected by the same issues so the Jamaican consumer does not have much of a choice. The choice is merely a theoretical one and not so much a practical one. Jamaicans are fed up with both telecoms providers.

What is needed is for more competition in the telecoms industry, which would undoubtedly benefit the Jamaican consumer. We need to ask ourselves whether this change in policy will usher in an improvement in customer service from our telecoms providers.

The jury is still out on that matter.

It can be argued that one positive outcome regarding this development is that subscribers will not be charged for switching networks. We hope that this does not change in the near future. Some have questioned whether number portability will advance Jamaica's economic chances in a globally competitive market, or is this policy merely cosmetic for subscribers to feel good?

I suspect only time will tell whether number portability was worth the wait.

Wayne Campbell