Briefing: China to implement mobile number portability nationally this year

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携号转网即将全国推行 操作麻烦多或阻碍用户转网积极性 – Securities Daily

What happened: China will implement mobile number portability (MNP) nationally this year, after nine years of trials. The program was initially announced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang when he delivered his government work report to the National People’s Congress earlier this month. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) told Chinese media that the MNP program among China’s three wireless carriers would be carried out in the latter half of the year, while the switch to virtual network operators would not be viable until next year.

Why it’s important: The MIIT has given out 15 virtual network operator licenses, including to tech companies like Alibaba and Xiaomi. Demand from Chinese mobile users has been increasing for an easy way to switch their numbers between major wireless carriers and virtual network operators, which provide plans that are almost 60% cheaper than those of the former ones. The number of virtual network operator users reached 80 million by the end of 2018, accounting for only 4.6% of total mobile users, yet it is expected to experience a growth spurt after the MNP program’s final implementation.