Antigua and Barbuda’s move to mobile number portability will begin in earnest next week.
That was according to Minister of Telecommunications Melford Nicholas during the post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday.
Number portability will allow persons to change their service provider without having to also change their mobile telephone number, offering a special enhancement to consumer choice in markets where there is more than one telephone service provider and removing the inconvenience of having to inform all contacts – family, friends, colleagues and clients – that the number has changed.
According to Nicholas, he will be meeting with the Telecommunications Authority under the Telecommunications Act.
“That amendment required certain changes to be made, to include the appointment of a telecommunications authority, which would be charged to put together the processes to ensure that Antigua can move towards mobile number portability,” he said
He added that he would be meeting with the authority after yesterday’s press briefing to discuss the matter.
Minister Nicholas added that there were several technical problems which must be addressed before the move to number portability can be in place.
“It is not as simple as turning a switch. There are technical interface issue that must take place between all of the operators; there are third party contracts which must be formed to be able to allow for an organization independent of the three
operators, to be in a position to facilitate the switch,” he said.
His comments came after regional media reported that, beginning Monday June 3rd 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) will launch mobile number portability in Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Currently, Antigua and Barbuda has not signed on to ECTEL as a full member but maintains an observer status.
Nicholas said learning from the experiences of ECTEL and from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which have already gone through the process, Antigua and Barbuda should be in a better position to accelerate the procedure.
“ECTEL has indicated their journey took them five years … in Jamaica, where it was first implemented in the region, took them three years, and in Trinidad their curve was two years.
“I imagine with the experience of all these jurisdictions and what is taking place at ECTEL because of our arrangement with ECTEL, we would learn from their experience,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nicholas added that Antigua and Barbuda’s
move from observer status to a full member of ECTEL was faced with a number of issues.
“The challenge that we still have in Antigua is that we must get to a position where we have done a comprehensive review of our legislative and regulatory framework in telecommunications,” he said, adding that Antigua and Barbuda’s position differed from other ECTEL countries in terms of telecommunications legislation.