According to telecommunications management departments, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China plans to start a mobile phone number portability trial in Tianjin and Shenzhen from October 2008.
By then, mobile phone numbers, with exceptions to those TD-SCDMA numbers starting with 157, will be portable for users in Tianjin and Shenzhen, which means users will be able to keep their original phone numbers when they want to change to another telecommunications network or operator. However, to support the Chinese-grown TD-SCDMA, the ministry says in its issued documents that switches to the TD-SCDMA network that starts with 157 will be a one-way deal. That is to say, mobile phone users of other networks can switch to China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network with their numbers, but users of the 157 phone numbers are not allowed to maintain the numbers when they switch to other networks.
By the situations of other countries which have implemented number portability, the policy is unfavorable for strong telecommunications operators while it is advantageous for weak operators who have advantages in fees and package charges. Taking South Korea as an example, after the implementation of number portability, one of South Korea's largest telecommunications operators SK Telecom suffered a loss of market share from over 70% to about 50%. Therefore, Chinese industry experts say the number portability policy may be a part of MIIT's asymmetric regulations against China Mobile.
If the trial operation of mobile phone number portability is successful in Tianjin and Shenzhen, it is expected to become a nationwide policy in 2009.