The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has delayed the introduction of number portability (NP) in the United Arab Emirates to the third quarter of 2011 in order to resolve technical issues. The launch of the service would allow customers of the UAE’s two national telecoms operators, Etisalat and Du, to retain their existing telephony number should they wish to switch provider. The regulator said the move to delay the service was ‘to allow for several performance and functionality enhancements’ to be made to the system. It added that Etisalat and Du would resume testing the system and the new service would be launched ‘as soon as they are ready.’ Mohamed al-Ghanim, director general of the TRA, told Reuters: ‘We were planning to launch NP by the end of the first quarter, but we have released two batches (of numbers)… to the operators for further testing,’ adding: ‘We are awaiting confirmation from the operators. This is a technical glitch. We are expecting that this fix will be the last fix.’ Originally slated for launch in the first quarter of 2011, the regulator hopes NP will boost competition in a saturated market: according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the UAE was home to 12.09 million mobile customers, translating to a population penetration of over 240%.