Hainan launches mobile number portability in May 2014
Cell phone users in Hainan province may keep their original mobile phone numbers when switching to another operator – a first for China.
The move, expected to infuse more competition into the industry, is likely to spread gradually nationwide .
From Saturday, mobile phone users in Hainan may choose turn to China Mobile (0941) China Telecom (0728) and China Unicom (0762) without changing their original phone numbers.
Hongkongers have been allowed to keep their own numbers and join any local telecom operator since March 1 1999.
"This policy is aiming at giving more flexibility and convenience to consumers, offering them more freedom to choose operators," said Wu Hequan, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Wu said most users in the mainland tend to be loyal to their current operators as they find changing phone numbers a huge hassle.
Since, November 2010, Hainan has allowed China Mobile users to switch to China Telecom and Unicom but not the other way round. As of the end of last year, 15,843 users had successfully completed the switch. Competition in the mainland telecoms industry is becoming tougher as 17 virtual mobile phone operators, including Suning Commerce and Gome Electrical Appliances (0493), join the fray.
The move has prompted China Mobile to cut monthly charges for its fourth- generation data service to as little as 30 yuan (HK$37.31), effective June 1.
The new prices, launched in five main cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, translate to discounts of up to 50percent.
The entry cost for 4G will be 30 yuan for a 500 megabytes data pack, and the minimum price of a 4G service plan is 58 yuan a month, down from 88 yuan.
Data for the 70 yuan monthly plan will be doubled to 2 gigabytes, representing a 50percent discount.
Users will not be charged more than 500 yuan per month as the usage limit has been set at 15GB.
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