AS OF June this year, Slovaks have been able to take their mobile phone numbers with them when switching to another mobile operator. So few of them have used the option, however, that the operators are furious at being forced by market rules to offer it.
"From the point of view of return on investment, this is the worst transaction in the history of our company," T-Mobile's corporate affairs director, Juraj Droba, told The Slovak Spectator.
"We were forced to adopt it [number portability] by the regulation bodies. It cost us hundreds of millions of crowns, and over the five months it has been available, less than 2,000 customers used it."
Orange spokesman Peter Tóth agreed: "For customers it is clearly not an important service."
As of the beginning of October, 1,040 customers had taken their Orange number with them to T-Mobile for a charge of Sk1,000, while 790 T-Mobile customers had switched to Orange while keeping their number, for a fee of Sk500.
Slovakia introduced mobile number portability in June 2006. According to the Act on Electronic Communications, mobile operators had been required to permit clients to take their phone numbers with them as of May 1, 2004, the date of Slovakia's EU entry. The EU Commission eventually took Slovakia to the European Court for failing to meet this condition.
Slovak customers will have to wait until 2007 for number portability on the fixed-line market.
By Marta Ďurianová