Number portability transition planned for April 2024

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By Robert A Emmanuel

[email protected]

The ability of Antiguans and Barbudans to move from one mobile network carrier to another, without having to change their phone number, has been pushed back until April 2024.

That is according to the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda which announced that a meeting between the three main carriers in the country, INET, Digicel and Flow, was held alongside a consulting team and two officials from the Ministry of Telecommunications which has been advising the government on this project.

“In July 2022, the initiative [to have number portability] would have received impetus when we employed the services of a consultancy firm…and based on those consultations, they outlined that there would have been an 18-month window…” Minister of Information Melford Nicholas told reporters at Friday’s post Cabinet media meeting.

According to the Minister, there are several technological adjustments and supply chain issues that need to be resolved prior to number portability becoming a reality.

“In the case of INET, their service provider would have given them a window by the end of September to make all of the technical changes to their network, and after which we would be in the process of training and testing,” Minister Nicholas added.

Antiguans and Barbudans have been demanding mobile number portability for several years, as it would allow persons to transition from one network to another without the inconvenience of having to inform persons of a change in their mobile number.

During the budget debate earlier this year, Minister Nicholas announced that the implementation of the initiative could be delayed until the last quarter of 2023, after initial discussions in 2019 were stymied due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister Nicholas said during Friday’s briefing that any opportunity to fast-track number portability would be pursued by his team.

“Of course, the Cabinet and I did indicate that the timeline [of the first quarter of 2024] was a bit too meandering, and we want to give some further impetus, so should the possibility present itself that the timeline can be trimmed, it would certainly receive my direction so to do,” he said.

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