Complaints as 70% of mobile number transfers rejected

The regulator said that the 134,222 rejected applications included applications that had been resubmitted more than once by the holder of the number.
The UAE was the last GCC country to offer mobile number portability, receiving 5,000 porting requests in the first 10 days of the service’s availability. Philip Cheung / The National
The UAE was the last GCC country to offer mobile number portability, receiving 5,000 porting requests in the first 10 days of the service’s availability. Philip Cheung / The National

More than 134,000 applications to transfer a UAE mobile number to a new network provider have been rejected since December as the regulator investigates customer complaints into the process.

Seven out of every 10 applications made by mobile phone users in the UAE to transfer their number from one network to another have been rejected in the five months of the service’s availability, according to figures released by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

As of May 18, just 55,555 mobile numbers had successfully been transferred between Etisalat and du’s networks since mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced at the end of December, out of a total of 190,185 requests.

The regulator said that the 134,222 rejected applications included applications that had been resubmitted more than once by the holder of the number.

Reasons cited for rejection included a mismatch between the subscriber’s name and the name given on the change application, incomplete applications and a lack of identification or attachments, TRA said.

One Dubai resident said he had applied to Etisalat 17 times to transfer his mobile number to du.

“Every time I applied to leave, the reason they rejected my request would change,” said Zaid, who requested that his surname be withheld. “There was one time I made an error and omitted a digit from my Emirates ID, but in each other case they would give a different reason, saying my account was suspended when it wasn’t, or that the names and the details that I gave didn’t match.”

Three other numbers used by his family members had been successfully transferred on the first attempt.

The regulator did not comment on whether du or Etisalat had received the most requests to transfer numbers.

The two operators declined to disclose the number of porting requests they had received.

The TRA said that it had “received several complaints from subscribers regarding the rejection of their MNP applications without having a solid reason for the rejection and is working on verifying many of these cases with the licensees”.

The regulator said that it would “take all necessary actions whenever the need arises”, without giving further detail.

TRA also stressed that subscribers needed to be aware of their contractual obligations and responsibilities before submitting a request to port their numbers, and said that a number of requests had been rejected because users had not delivered full information and documentation required in the process.

“The impact of MNP on the market has been quite small, but that was always to be expected,” said Matthew Reed, an analyst with Informa. “It’s in line with a common pattern whereby MNP produces relatively little change in mobile markets that are heavily prepaid, like that in the UAE.”

About 13 per cent of the total number of mobile subscriptions in the UAE were prepaid at the end of March.

Bahrain, which has a similar mix of contract and prepaid subscriptions to the UAE, recorded just 10,000 successful requests to transfer a number to a different network, in the three months after introducing MNP in July 2011, according to its telecoms regulator.

Only 59,000 Bahraini numbers, representing 2.8 per cent of the country’s total subscriber base, were ported in the 18 months after MNP was introduced.

Despite the small numbers, the introduction of MNP has removed a barrier to competition and consumers stand to benefit from that, said Mr Reed.

The UAE in December became the last country in the GCC to offer the service, receiving 5,000 porting requests in the first 10 days of the service’s availability.

jeverington@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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