According to Bloomberg, mobile number portability (MNP) will be introduced in Serbia in March 2011, in compliance with European Union standards. Following regulatory changes this year and technical preparations that should be completed in February, an estimated 9.9 million mobile-phone users will be able to switch from one operator to another without changing their numbers, Telecommunications Minister Jasna Matic is quoted as saying. ‘Number portability is a key element of true competition because many users are reluctant to change operators if that requires changing numbers’, Matic said in a statement. She declined to estimate the likely impact on rates or on the size of the overall market, but said at least 10% of users are likely to change operators next year.
The decision has been met with varying degrees of enthusiasm amongst the country’s three wireless network operators. MT:S, the mobile arm of state-owned fixed line incumbent Telekom Srbija, which claimed a 59.2% share of the subscriber base at the end of September, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg that it accepted the change, while rival network operator Mobilkom Serbia (VIP Mobile) welcomed the move, saying it is ready to meet all technical conditions. Telenor Serbia meanwhile was quoted as saying that the change ‘should be postponed to early June 2011,’ to allow more time for technical preparation, including setting up a central database station for routing ported numbers between operators.