In this article we will describe how telephone number portability is operated and managed in Brazil, including the requirements and benefits offered by operators.
Number portability is required by a small fraction of the country’s user base. Around 350 thousand fixed line and mobile phone subscribers in Brazil carry their number to a new operator each month.
Since 2007, Anatel, the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency, delegates the role of manager of portability operations to ABR Telecom, the Brazilian Telecommunication Resources Association, which also supervises infrastructure wholesale in the country and has representatives of the largest telephone operators on its board.
ABR Telecom maintains a National Number Database which collates all the active telephone numbers in the country to their operators. From there, users can inquire what operator their number is currently attached to using a special page on its website. Whenever a number is migrated, ABR Telecom is responsible for updating the Operational Data Base for each company.
ABR Telecom and Anatel regulation institutes the following requirements for portability in Brazil:
- All landline and mobile phone numbers need to be portable
- Numbers cannot be migrated from landline to mobile or vice versa
- Landline phone numbers must remain in the same area they were issued in, mobile phones must use the same area code, or DDD
- The portability fee is capped at BRL 4,00 and the process should take less than three days
- During the number transition the line cannot be unreachable for more than 2 hours
- Number portability can be cancelled and users can have their number returned to the original operator up to two days after the process is completed
To require number migration, users must first contact the operator they are interested in subscribing to and provide information and documents:
- Personal ID
- Current number and operator
Once the portability process is started, ABR Telecom is contacted by the new operator and initiates the number migration by crossing the information from the original operator to the new one.
There are no limits as to how many times portability can be requested for a single number. ABR Telecom advises users to pay all outstanding invoices from the former operator before migrating, as settling the account can be problematic once their account is cancelled.
Benefits and Controversies
Some Brazilian operators offer special benefits for users who choose to migrate to their brand, such as discounted fares for calls and SMS for a determined period of time. Specially subsidised mobile devices or discounted plans may also be offered, a useful feature for users who change from different types of networks and therefore need a new device.
Although Anatel and ABR Telecom require operators to follow strict procedures when operating number mobility, recent reports suggest that some of the requirements, such as price limits and duration times are frequently ignored. It is also reported that operators might push the sale of data plans as the only alternative to incoming users.