Uruguay launches Mobile Number Portability

Mobile number portability was activated in Uruguay early last week, after several months of delays due to legal uncertainty and technical issues.   

Uruguayan mobile users can maintain their number when switching to another company, doing it under the new MNP system, with mobile operators Antel, Claro and Movistar required to port numbers within a maximum of three days.  

As such, users will be assigned an identification number and can check the status of their request via a dedicated portability site.  

For example, mobile users couldn’t retain their mobile numbers if they switched between networks. However, under the new legislation, operators must transfer numbers within three days and are obliged to cover the cost themselves instead of charging consumers for the service.   

Meanwhile, customers may only transfer their number between networks three times per year.  

According to Statista, there were 15.85 million mobile cellular subscriptions in Uruguay in 2019, translating into a penetration rate of 138.08 percent.  

In addition, the ministry stated that the introduction of MNP would help safeguard consumer rights and boost competition between the country’s mobile operators Antel, Claro, and Movistar.   

As reported by TeleGeography, the introduction process began in July 2020 with the approval of Law 19,889/2020, which agreed that mobile users have the right to number portability.  

Afterward, a committee to manage the introduction of MNP was established, having proposals on the system’s general rules, regulatory conditions, and implementation timeframe approved by the government in January 2021. Tests were set to begin in July last year ahead of a commercial launch on 1st October during the year.  

In May 2020, some concerns related to the security and transparency of the implementation resulted in postponing the launch. In August, the Cleartech-Cietel consortium was appointed as the database administrator for the first five years following the mobile number portability (MNP) launch.  

It is worth mentioning that Uruguay’s government authorized the timetable for the long-delayed introduction of the MNP, enabling mobile users to control their number if they switch service providers. TeleSemana reports that several portability database administrators will be selected to manage the process next month, with contracts and agreements with mobile operators expected to follow in March.