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CASTRIES, St. Lucia — Member States of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) will advance plans to move to number portability later this month.

Number portability enables telephone users to retain their telephone number when changing from one network operator to another. It is considered to be a key factor in enhancing competition in a multi-operator environment. Some of its benefits include: elimination of the cost of businesses and residential customers of number change and the tedious process of informing others of this change; lowering of the cost of switching service providers; more efficient allocation of limited numbering resources and a more level competitive environment, with lowered barriers to entry for new service providers.

ECTEL’s Director of Technical Services, Andrew Millet, said the two services that will be launched are mobile and fixed line portability.

Millet said mobile users will be able to change from one provider to another without the need to change their number, and similarly for fixed line customers. Millet says that although work will commence on both services immediately, it is expected that mobile portability will be launched first, hopefully before the end of 2016, followed by fixed line portability.

ECTEL will convene a workshop on Nov. 18 to advance the process. The workshop will mark the official commencement of work to officially introduce number portability to all ECTEL member states: Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis.

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This project is expected to increase the telecommunications competitive environment and give more power to consumers of telecommunications services.

Number portability has already been launched in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Martinique and Guadeloupe, and work is currently been undertaken in Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Barbados.