Fixed-to-mobile option expected to be popular

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2008, 12:00am

Fixed-line phone users are expected to switch numbers to a mobile phone service if the city's telecom regulator introduces number portability between fixed and mobile networks.

Number portability could also boost competition between fixed-line and mobile-phone operators.

A consultation paper released yesterday by Ofta, the city's telecoms watchdog, seeks public and industry opinion on the voluntary implementation of fixed-mobile number portability (FMNP).

Under the present system, fixed-line phone subscribers can only keep their existing number when switching to other fixed-line phone service providers, but cannot switch a number to mobile operators. Likewise, mobile phone users can only keep their number if they use a mobile operator, and cannot take their number to a fixed-line operator.

'FMNP should help increase cross-platform competition between fixed and mobile network operators, provide innovative solutions to meet the demands of customers and encourage more efficient use of the scarce public resource of numbers,' an Ofta spokesman said.

Industry watchers said fixed-line users had often kept a fixed-line phone as a traditional family contact point. But once they were able to switch their number to a mobile service, they would because mobile phone tariffs were much cheaper than fixed-line tariffs.

PCCW, with about 67 per cent of the fixed-line market, charges users about HK$80 to HK$110 a month for a basic fixed-line service. A mobile phone tariff can be as low as HK$35 per month.