Number portability gets underway

The concept becomes reality as the first customer switches from Cellcom to MIRS.

Public response has been slow on the first day of number portability, with wireline and cellular companies each reporting a few hundred applications by customers to switch networks. Around 1,000 cellular subscribers had switched provider by the afternoon, but this is an approximate figure since most of the companies are publicly traded and do not disclose precise figures on the number of customers they have lost.

The first person to switch providers was a target=new href=http://www.cellcom.co.il/>Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL) customer, who asked to move to MIRS Communication Ltd. and retain his existing number. MIRS, incidentally, had to reboot its network following heavy call traffic, delaying the processing of portability applications for a half an hour. Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR; LSE:PCCD) also reported a spike in call traffic during the day.

Minister of Communications Arial Atias, the driving force behind the introduction of number portability, began the day with a visit to one of Bezeq's exchanges to follow the public's response to the program and ensure the company has the technology in place to cope with the change. He later visited MIRS and will visit the other telecommunications companies in the coming days. "We'll have our finger on the pulse over the coming month," Atias told "Globes". "The number portability did not go into effect without any breakdowns at all. There will be snags and they will be dealt with. We took this into account, and we will continue to do so."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on December 2, 2007

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2007

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