Russia to End ‘Mobile Slavery’ This Year With Number Portability

Russia plans to end so-called “mobile slavery” by introducing mobile number portability from December, according to Telecommunications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov.

The country will at least partially start number portability from Dec.1 as planned despite proposals to delay introduction until April 1, Nikiforov said, according to official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The ministry expects about three million Russians a year to change operator while keeping their mobile-phone number, Nikiforov told Rossiyskaya. Tele2 Russia and OAO MegaFon (MFON) have already successfully tested number portability, and OAO Mobile TeleSystems (MBT) and VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP) followed last week, the 31-year-old minister said.

Russia has a mobile penetration rate of 164 percent, which means there are 1.64 active SIM-cards for each person in its population of 143 million, according to research agency Advanced Communications & Media. About half of Russians are potentially ready to switch mobile operators while retaining their mobile numbers, Nikiforov said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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