Relook post-paid to pre-paid number porting

In October 2016, the Infocomm Media Development Agency (IMDA) noted that "current demand for post-paid to pre-paid number porting (and vice-versa) is low" and, thus, did not require mobile service providers to implement post-paid to pre-paid number porting (Low demand for post-paid to pre-paid porting; Oct 18, 2016).

Later in December of that year, Australian telco TPG Telecom won the new entrant spectrum auction, which was reserved for parties that did not operate a nationwide mobile network to "enhance innovation and competition" in the sector. In April last year, TPG increased its spectrum holdings in the general spectrum auction.

Since then, competition has increased, with new mobile virtual network operators entering the scene. Post-paid and pre-paid offerings have both improved too.

However, pre-paid offerings appear to have become more competitive than the post-paid options.

For example, Singtel's pre-paid offering, RedHot$30 offers 3GB of any time data, 1,000 minutes of talk time and 1,000 SMS for $30 monthly. Its closest post-paid offering, the SIM-Only 3GB Plan (No Contract), costs approximately $41.40 monthly for the same inclusions.

Similarly, StarHub's 3GB pre-paid data offering includes unlimited outgoing calls for $18 monthly, while its No-Contract XS plan costs $24 monthly for 3GB of data and only 200 minutes of outgoing calls, though it offers unlimited weekend data.

Consumers who no longer use their mobile phones as often, but still wish to retain the ability to make and receive calls can also switch to cheaper pre-paid options, rather than being forced to remain on inflexible post-paid options.

Smart Nation initiatives like PayNow and OneService also use mobile numbers as one of the identifiers, making it all the more important that users be able to keep their numbers as they move through various plan options.

In the light of these new offerings, consumers may be more inclined to port from post-paid to pre-paid.

Allowing consumers to do this will boost competition and I hope IMDA will consider the option of mandating this.

Shawn Lee Chieh Loong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Relook post-paid to pre-paid number porting'. Print Edition | Subscribe