Vietnamese mobile subscribers will be able to keep their existing numbers when switching to a different mobile service provider as of 2017, a telecommunications official has said.

The Nhan Dan (People) newspaper quoted Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang as saying that the policy would help Vietnamese mobile carriers use their pools of mobile phone numbers in a more efficient way.

It would also force them to continually improve their services and reduce costs while benefiting subscribers who will no longer have to rely on a carrier to use a specific number, added Thang.

Under the mobile number portability scheme (MNP), the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) will build a network switching centre that connects all telecommunications service providers in Vietnam.

The centre is scheduled to be completed before the end of June 2015 and the MNP will be piloted at least six months before it is officially implemented.

The MNP scheme was approved by MIC Minister Nguyen Bac Son last September.

Three major mobile network operators, namely MobiFone, Vinaphone and Viettel, account for more than 90 percent of the Vietnamese telecommunications market.

Launched in 1993, MobiFone was the first telecommunications company to operate in Vietnam. According to the 2013 ICT White Book, MobiFone was the second largest mobile network operator with 21.4 percent of market share, second only to Viettel with 40.5 percent.-VNA