By the end of January, Qatar residents will finally be able to switch mobile phone providers without losing their numbers, ictQatar has announced.
Number portability was supposed to be offered in Qatar by the end of 2011, and was then pushed back a few more times due to logistical issues.
Last summer, Qtel and Vodafone announced a tie-up with Norway-based Systor Group to serve as a technology partner for the much-awaited service.
A Qtel spokesman confirmed to Doha News that the company is still working with them on the project, adding:
Qtel will be providing a full update for our customers on Mobile Number Portability (MNP) shortly. As a major supporter of value and choice for all our customers, we believe that MNP will deliver significant benefits for everyone in Qatar.
A Vodafone spokeswoman did not yet respond to a request for comment, but as the underdog and relative newcomer, breaking Qtel’s domestic monopoly in 2009, the company could stand to gain from the new service.
Mobile phone usage in Qatar saw a more than five-fold increase in 10 years, from 28 lines per 100 people in 2001 to 161 in 2010 – more than double the global average, according to one Qatar Statistics Authority report.
QSA predicts that more of us will be walking around with at least two mobile phones each soon enough. But the introduction of number portability could change that, as one motivation to have two phones is to use both providers without losing the phone numbers.
According to ictQatar:
This (service) empowers consumers with the ability to more freely choose the best service provider to meet their needs, and is an important part of the ongoing liberalization of Qatar’s telecommunications market.
To change service providers while keeping your phone number, visit a retail outlet of the company you are planning to switch to. There, customers will fill out an application (which requires valid a Qatar ID). Expect the switch to take about a day once the application is complete.
Would you be more likely to try out Qtel or Vodafone services without the hassle of getting/sharing a new number with everyone?
Credit: Photo by Johnathan Lyman