A pilot mobile number portability (MNP) scheme has launched in two Chinese provinces, the northern municipality of Tianjin and the southern province of Hainan. Aimed at increasing competition as a means of aiding smaller market players, the initiative was spearheaded by China’s regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
The regulator has reportedly been planning to introduce MNP for two years. The six-month pilot programme will allow mobile phone users to switch between operators with needing to change their phone number. The operators involved – including market leaders China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – are obliged to process such requests in two business days.
China Unicom is likely to benefit from the trial as it offers an extensive portfolio of 3G devices, including the highly sought-after iPhone. Having a market share of 70% makes it almost inevitable that China Mobile will lose customers in the short term. Strategy Analytics analyst Qiu Lin commented: “Some China Mobile subscribers may switch over to China Unicom, given that it has a better product portfolio supported by companies such as Apple, Google, Nokia, and Samsung."