The process of portability of mobile numbers for months is quite problematic and thousands of users face rejections of the request to transfer the number to another operator.
The Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) acknowledges that the increase in requests and the number of ported numbers since August 2020 has been accompanied by a deterioration in the indicator of requests received from issuing operators, which means an increase in the percentage of rejected requests. In addition to the increase in the number and percentage of rejected requests, AKEP has addressed a very large number of complaints, both from users and from the operators themselves, who denounce abusive practices in the process of porting the number by competing companies.
Although AKEP has warned the three operators of a significant increase in the percentage of rejected requests and port complaints, calling for urgent measures to improve the situation, despite some sporadic reactions, the situation has not improved.
Due to the aggravated number portability situation, both the increased number of complaints, and the monitoring of the deterioration of the indicator of the percentage of requests rejected by the awarding operators, AKEP conducted inspections at three mobile network undertakings in the period between December 2020 and February 2021. The inspection identified numerous violations “On the manner of implementation of number portability” and decided to fine operators in accordance with the provisions of Article 137, paragraph VII of the Law “On Electronic Communications”. Although AKEP does not disclose the amount of the fine, the paragraph in question provides for fines of up to 100 thousand new lek. For mobile operators, fines of this size are just “tickling”, however AKEP announces that it has left recommendations to operators and will continue to pursue the issue of number portability.
The average number of ported numbers between the three mobile operators, until August 2020, was about 200 ports per day, while from August 2020 onwards this indicator has reached over 1000 ports per day, reaching a peak on 2.12. 2020, with 2214 numbers ported per day. The increase in demand has come mainly as a result of competition between operators, who attract each other’s customers by offering monthly packages at a reduced price. This has also led to accusations of offering predatory (below cost) prices between operators and has also become the subject of a decision by the Competition Authority. In a decision in April, the institution ordered the largest mobile service operator to stop offering below-priced pricing and to abandon the number-blocking practices of its customers.
Finally, AKEP has also stated that the application of aggressive promotional campaigns, mainly for porting the number from one operator to another, can bring serious consequences for the competition in the long run. This practice puts in difficulty mainly the entrepreneurs with the smallest share by reducing the financial capacity to increase investments in the network.