IF ALL goes as planned, number portability - the possibility to keep the same telephone number when you switch telecom operators - will be a reality for Slovak consumers from the beginning of 2007. Slovakia's two mobile phone operators will begin offering the service as early as June 2006, but the process with fixed lines could take a bit longer.
"Recent meetings between top representatives of the Telecom Bureau, Orange Slovensko and T-Mobile Slovensko have confirmed that number portability for mobile networks will be ready for commercial operation in June 2006," Telecom Bureau spokesman Roman Vavro told The Slovak Spectator.
Juraj Droba, corporate affairs director of T-Mobile Slovensko, said that the launch of number portability was made possible by cooperation between the operators.
"We are currently ironing out the last remaining technicalities to be able to provide the service to Slovak customers on time," he said, confirming that clients will be able to use the service at the beginning of June.
Orange spokesman Peter Tóth agreed. "Preparations for introducing this service are nearly complete. We plan to launch portability by the end of the first half of 2006," he said.
Fixed line networks pose a greater challenge because of the diversity of operators. The Telecom Bureau, the Telecom Ministry and the Number Portability Association are set to begin negotiations in the last week of May, Vavro said.
"This is a service that should be provided by all operators on the [fixed line] telecom market. It is conditional on an agreement between all operators on a common technical solution for exchanging information and correctly directing calls from ported numbers to all networks. An agreement on common communications regarding applications for number portability is also needed," said Radoslav Bielka, Slovak Telekom spokesman.
"With regard to the length of negotiations, we expect the service to be introduced in the last quarter of 2006," he added.
Number portability will be possible between mobile operators and among fixed line operators, but not from a mobile operator to a fixed line operator, or vice versa.
The service would be limited to Slovakia. International portability requires a global solution, requiring agreements between various national providers.
- Marta Ďurianová