China is running its first mobile number portability (MNP) trial, offering free number transfer between operators for the next six months.
The trial, involving all three Chinese cellcos, began this week in Tianjin in north China and Hainan Island in the south, the MIIT revealed.
Operators are required to complete the free switch within two working days, China Daily reported.
MNP is widely available in mobile markets worldwide as a means of increasing market competition, while allowing customers the convenience of retaining their mobile number when they switch providers.
The move heaps pressure on China Mobile, the market leader, which has around 70% of the 813 million mobile subscribers.
However, the freedom of China’s mostly low-income users to switch is constrained by the different mobile standards.
China Unicom, which runs W-CDMA and GSM networks, and China Mobile, which uses TD-SCDMA and GSM, are compatible in 2G only.
China Telecom operates on the separate cdma2000-1/EV-DO network, requiring a new handset.