Services to come in six months
The telecom regulator yesterday directed a joint venture to receive the licence to launch mobile number portability service in six months.
The service will enable people to switch from one mobile operator to another without changing their 11-digit mobile numbers. Shifting from one mobile operator to another will cost Tk 30 and the service can be availed once in every three months.
The joint venture formed by Infozillion BD Teletech Consortium Ltd, a Bangladeshi entity, and Teletech d.o.o, a Slovenian company, was notified about the licence by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission at a programme.
"Though it is very late but at last we can embrace this modern service, which will help our market become more mature," said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the telecom regulator.
It will help bring more competition to the market and enhance service quality, he added.
The joint venture plans to make the service available by mid-March or April and invest around Tk 50 crore.
Infozillion Managing Director Mabroor Hossain said: "We will complete our preparations by February and then we will go for establishing connectivity with the mobile operators."
One of the conditions of the notification was that the joint venture has to pay Tk 11.6 crore, including value added taxes, in fees to get the licence.
Another condition was that within six months of the licence being awarded, the company has to show that at least 1 percent of the existing customers has availed the service.
Failure to meet the conditions will result in the licence being awarded to another company and a penalty being slapped on the joint venture, Mahmood said at the ceremony.
BTRC commissioners and Teletech representative Tomislav Gacnik were also present at the event.
Discussions on MNP started in 2009 and BTRC in June 2013 asked the mobile phone operators to introduce the service by January 2014. But the operators failed to do so.
The government's move to award the licence was postponed in 2016 amid security concerns as there was no set precondition in the previous guidelines for the applicants.
Amendments were made in July this year through the introduction of security clearance issues for the applicants.
BTRC then chose the joint venture through the "beauty contest" method and it got go-ahead from the Prime Minister's Office.
The number portability service is currently available in some 72 countries. Neighbouring India and Pakistan introduced it a few years ago. Singapore is the pioneer in this field, providing it since 1997.