Russia’s Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov has revealed that he has submitted a draft bill on the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) to the government, the Prime Tass news agency reports. Using the microblogging service Twitter, the minister confirmed: ‘[I] signed and sent to the Russian government amendments to the law on communications for [the introduction of] mobile number portability’, without elaborating further.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in April this year then-president Dmitry Medvedev called for rules to be put in place to allow domestic mobile phone users to retain their existing numbers after changing service provider. The government has been attempting to implement MNP since 2005, when it initially floated the idea. In October 2009 the ministry discussed NP implementation with all main players, with most opposing the proposal: according to Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) the modification of its IT systems would cost it USD127 million, while it estimated that across the industry, costs could amount to USD500 million. Further, MTS said its research showed that a maximum of 2% of subscribers would use the service, a view apparently echoed by Vimpelcom. Medvedev’s recent demand followed a meeting with Igor Artemyev, the head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), who urged: ‘We can simply use [state] power. Mobile operators’ costs will be minimal’.
Under the terms of a previous draft bill, agreed by ministers earlier this year, MNP was tentatively scheduled to be introduced on 1 January 2014, only for the document’s progress to run into complications when it was supplied to the ministry’s scientific and technical council for consideration. A new working group reportedly questioned the involvement of an independent MNP management company, and suggested that the mobile operators should be free to ‘choose the technical manner in which the service will be performed’. The working panel also stressed the importance of introducing MNP on a nationwide basis, rather than region-by-region, a strategy favoured by a number of major players. During the working group’s most recent meeting (dated 15 June), the panel reiterated that the service should be provided to mobile users for free, with the cellcos absorbing the costs involved.