Dominican Republic: Switching Companies While Keeping Mobile Number

Is it possible to change telephone companies and keep the same number? It is an option available in the United States for several years, which is often the benchmark for comparison in the Dominican Republic. Up until a few months ago, it was seen with some disbelief among Dominicans, even though the official sector has been pushing the project for number portability.

Photo by Santiago Nicolau and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Santiago Nicolau and used under a Creative Commons license.

Things took a definitive turn when the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications [es] (Indotel, for its initials in Spanish) announced last April that the company that will manage the number portability platform has been selected . This responsibility falls to the Information Technology division of the Spanish consortium El Corte Inglés, a decision that initially caused skepticism, as noted by Joan Guerrero of the blog Duarte 101 [es]:

Desconozco la experencia y los criterios de selección que tuvo Indotel para seleccionar El Corte Inglés como futuro proveedor de este servicio en nuestro país. Haciendo un repaso rápido, este consorcio español tiene varias unidades de negocio y una de ellas es el aspecto de implementación de servicios como este. En España, esta empresa es que maneja la portabilidad numérica entre operadoras y de seguro, en varios países de la región latinoamericana. Tuve la oportunidad de preguntarle a Luis Rafael Pellerano, asesor legal de esta iniciativa, el por qué no se hizo la implementación de la portabilidad con una empresa local, que conocería el mercado mucho mejor. Tan sólo me dejó dicho que la selección de esta empresa valió por su presencia mundial; sin más detalles. Creo que esto deja mucho que desear.

I do not know how or the selection criteria used by Indotel to select El Corte Inglés as the future provider of this service in our country. Making a quick review, this Spanish consortium has several business divisions, one of which implements services like these. In Spain, this company manages the numeric portability service between operators and probably has presence in various Latin American countries. I had the opportunity to ask Luis Rafael Pellerano, legal adviser for this initiative, why they did not use a local company, which knows the local market much better, to implement the portability project. He just told me that the selection of this company was worth it because of its global presence; without going into more details. I think this leaves much to be desired.

Aside from this initial skepticism, some of which was generated because El Corte Inglés is primarily known as department stores in Spain, the issue of number portability was discussed on several blogs, always from the standpoint of consumer: How much does the average Dominican know about the issue? What implications will it have? At the moment there are great expectations for improved service offered by telephone companies, as well as fair and open competition.

Darío Martínez, a reader of Duarte 101 [es] sums it up:

La portabilidad numérica, si sale como se espera (excelentemente bien), será lo más positivo que tendremos los dominicanos en materia de servicio telefónico. Las telefónicas estarán OBLIGADAS a brindar un servicio excepcional a nosotros, pues cambiarse de empresa será un trámite sencillo y barato. Las telefónicas han perdido su mayor elemento de retención de clientes: ¡Ya los números telefónicos NO son su propiedad!

Number portability, if it goes as expected (excellently), will be the most positive thing that we Dominicans will have with telephone service. The phone companies will be OBLIGATED to provide exceptional service to us, because changing companies will be a simple and cheap process. The phone companies have lost its largest elements for customer retention, now phone numbers are NOT their property!

Will number portability fulfill expectations? In two weeks, starting on September 30, the plan will take effect, and the phone companies have already started with the allusive publicity, as has Indotel, with a simple, yet effective radio and television campaign with the clear and simple message: from now on, everything changes, except the number. Indotel has also used its Twitter account [es] to countdown the days until the measure takes effect, but also to answer questions about the changes.

On that date, the Dominican Republic will become the 3rd Latin American country to implement number portability, with Mexico and Brazil as pioneers in that area. Many believe that it will be a simple and painless process: for only 80 pesos (approximately $2.20 USD), payable in 4 installments of 20 pesos per month, the user is entitled to carry over his or her current number, provided that he or she gives notice of the decision before canceling the current contract.

Translation by Eduardo Ávila


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