- Symbio’s CEO has recently called for regulatory intervention to address an “operational crisis” in the telecom sector concerning number porting.
- The CEO’s comments on virtual mobile numbers and local number portability were part of what he described as a “competition health check”.
- He also said that the rollout of 5G technology and the launch of SpaceX’s Starlink service would provide healthy competition to the NBN.
Rene Sugo, Symbio’s CEO, has recently called for regulatory intervention to address an “operational crisis” in the telecom sector concerning number porting. He pointed out that although the fixed voice market is characterised by competition at the infrastructure, service, and brand layers, it has an Achilles’ heel that needs to be addressed to reach “competition nirvana.”
According to the CEO, “There is a major flaw at the infrastructure level because local number portability is broken. This break is inhibiting the growth and adoption of services and the success of the competitive brands.” Sugo also said that it can take: “six weeks, three months, maybe more” to port phone numbers compared to churning an NBN broadband service from one provider to another in the space of an afternoon.
Even if the industry is working on a new number portability standard, he noted that this is not the crux of the issue: “The issue is the speed and the need for a fit for purpose service level guarantee. The current process is dated and heavily manual and deals with lots of legacy systems in legacy networks. There is no business case to update those legacy systems. There is no business case for these networks to invest in additional resources to process porting requests more quickly as ultimately they would be facilitating their own market share decline.”
Thus there emerges the need for regulatory action to: “swiftly impose tighter time frames and better service levels on the current legacy process and not wait several years for a new process to be implemented.”
The CEO’s comments on virtual mobile numbers and local number portability were part of what he described as a “competition health check”. He further argued that the proliferation of consumer-facing brands often concealed a lack of competition in parts of the supply chain of telecom services.
When it comes to the mobile sector, there needs to be increased service-level competition. “Thick” MVNOs at a minimum, an “even better” spectrum, as well as tower sharing are essential, according to Sugo. New entrants and new technologies should also be encouraged, particularly in the fixed broadband segment, he said. The CEO also lamented a “lack of genuine innovation” in the broadband space. Still, according to Sugo, this can be attributed to most telcos being stuck with reselling NBN Co’s products. He also said that the rollout of 5G technology and the launch of SpaceX’s Starlink service would provide healthy competition to the NBN.