AsiaInfo, a telecommunications software and IT security services provider, has announced an agreement with China Mobile and China Unicom to collaborate on the development of mobile number portability (MNP). Trials are currently underway in Hainan and Tianjian, and the new agreement could accelerate the pace of MNP development and bring forward its nationwide rollout.
China’s lack of MNP has been a constant obstacle to user adoption of 3G. Current telecom customers are not able to upgrade to 3G on a different mobile carrier without surrendering their existing phone numbers. AsiaInfo will improve the carriers’ billing, CRM and BI systems, facilitating a smoother 3G substitution process.
The user information collected by AsiaInfo will enable nationwide management of payment and charging processes. Aggregated information will be relayed to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s (MIIT) database for centralized storage and management. MNP is expected to implemented nationwide within the next year, but each operator must undergo a four-step process of gateway testing, comprehensive services testing, test result evaluations and internal trials.
China Mobile has the most to lose from the introduction of MNP. Despite the company’s dominance in terms of 2G customers, MNP means that its current user base will not be tethered to the its 3G services when they decide to upgrade.