Chinese Operators Invest $427M in Number Portability Prep

China is finally about to get mobile number portability and millions of consumers are expected to take advantage.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

November 29, 2019

2 Min Read
Chinese Operators Invest $427M in Number Portability Prep

After years of failed attempts, mobile number portability (MNP) is set to launch in China on December 1.

If the provincial trials are any guide, as many as 20 million people will port to another operator between now and Chinese New Year.

The three telcos have been running pilots in five provinces since September, with 3.16 million users, or 1.8% of the customer base, choosing to change operators.

But not without difficulties. The biggest complaint from consumers was of being locked into decades-long contracts, China Business Network reports.

Many found they were handcuffed to their service provider until 2050 and quite a number had 100-year contracts. One social media user reported being stuck with an agreement that expired in 2852.

Customers were also being hit by demands for excessively high "compensation" in order to change telcos, according to Lu Chuncong, a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

He called out the telcos for "setting up system obstacles, violating the number porting regulations and affecting user experience and perceptions."

Speaking at a ceremony to launch MNP on Wednesday, Lu said the state-owned operators had invested around RMB30 billion ($427 million) in establishing a nationwide MNP capability over the past eight months.

But tests by the industry research body, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), had found the system sometimes shuts down.

Users complained they could not access the Internet or recharge, or they could not use some existing applications or services, he said.

Underlining the difficulting of regulating the industry in the absence of a national law, Lu said that as result of the irregularities, the ministry would "strengthen the guidance and supervision" of telcos.

For all the latest news from the wireless networking and services sector, check out our dedicated mobile content channel here on Light Reading.

The MIIT had now set up an inspection team of more than 500 officials. CAICT would continuously monitor the portability network and back-end capabilities, focusing on monitoring "illegal shutdowns, interruption of system services and irregular interaction with users," Lu said.

China's journey to number portability has been a long one. India introduced MNP in 2010, roughly the time when China began working seriously on it.

To prepare for MNP, the operators have completed more than 1 million network testing projects. China Mobile says it has trained up more than 80,000 staff, while China Unicom has set up more than 2,000 work teams.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech ( 

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like