New rules in Chile have shifted ownership of the telephone number from telephone companies to individuals for the first time ever. The legal change will enable customers to switch their service provider while retaining their number.
It is hoped this will create more competition among companies such as Movistar and Entel to provide a better service, as customers are no longer restricted in moving through fear of losing their number.
The legislation took effect in December but most number transfers will not be possible until around June. There will be a small fee involved, unlikely to exceed 5 US dollars, according to Chilean Telecommunications Undersecretary Jorge Atton. The fee is in line with charges for the service in other countries.
There are also plans to create a national directory for prepaid phones. As a result, if someone loses their mobile phone they will be able to keep the same number. This would also enable those who leave Chile for extended periods of time to put their mobile number “on standby” so it will be reserved for them upon their return.
In 2013, there will also be a move to allow landline numbers to be moved from house to house anywhere in the country. This will follow the elimination of internal long distance call plans over the next two years. The service will be available in a preliminary form at the end of 2011 for people moving homes within the same area code.
There will also be a change in the makeup of the telephone numbers themselves. The change will see a standardization of Chilean telephone numbers to nine digits.
Mobile phones will have a number 9 at the beginning, followed by the remainder of the existing number. Landlines will have a 2 inserted between the area code and the number to create the new 9 digit form.
This standardization should be completed by early next year.
By Mark Briggs – Santiago Times