The CRTC yesterday issued its much-anticipated decision involving the implementation of wireless number portability. The Commission mandated number portability by March 14, 2007, about six months faster than the industry proposed, though not exactly the "expeditious" implementation that the government called for last February.
I entered the fray last fall, publishing a column on the issue in which I argued that the industry-backed two-year implementation timeframe was far too long (I used the column as the basis for a submission to the CRTC). I (and others) pointed to at least two reasons for faster implementation. First, the industry proposal envisioned full nationwide number portability and I argued that the vast majority of Canadians could have number portability by rolling the service out to urban areas first. Second, I noted that the industry plan waited far too long to begin testing and marketing the service and that many steps could be conducted in parallel to save time.
The CRTC essentially rejected the first argument but agreed with the second. The Commission committed to a full, nationwide rollout, which certainly buys the carriers a bit of time. It also recognized, however, that there is an opportunity to move on several tracks simultaneously and thereby knock six months off the industry’s 24 month implementation plan. While a phased-in approach would have enabled some number portability in 2006, consumers will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy what has been available in numerous other jurisdictions for many years.