Number portability was first offered to Jamaica on June 22. Number portability is the ability to keep your phone number, but switch/port your number to another network. In the case of Jamaica, it means switching between the two telecoms providers, Digicel and LIME.
Previously, persons wishing to change network would have to get a number from the new network. Most did not move because their current numbers were well known to othersand they didn’t want to change it. Now, with portability, the barrier has been removed and the movements have begun. Since June 22, both telecoms companies have been doing extensive promotions, which includes giving away phones at low prices as baits to get people to switch.
In a little over one month, both telecom providers are in a dead heat, reporting that 10,000 persons have moved to their network. If this is correct, this means that there are no winners, right? Wrong.
The Big Winner
The big winner here is Digicel. The Irish company is the biggest telecoms provider in Jamaica, with over 2 million reported users. They have cornered 70% of the market. If both sets of movers balance each other (as is now the case), Digicel is left with its massive market share unchanged.
It is LIME who have the uphill task of cutting into Digicel’s market. Although Digicel has become very unpopular over the last few months due to its pricing, the cheaper LIME does not seem to be making the headway they should.
LIME was the first to provide mobile service to Jamaica, but they took advantage of the then monopoly and charged high prices. When Digicel entered the market with their then ‘state of the art’ phones and attractive pricing, Jamaicans turned against LIME. Persons who never owned a cellphone (because of LIME high prices and unavailability of phones), now had the opportunity. A service once reserved for the more affluent, became available to everyone. Needless to say, it has been an uphill struggle for LIME ever since.
Digicel the Bigger Network
Now it seems that Jamaica are ready to forgive them. The ‘man in the street’ gives LIME great reviews, re: call rates. However, Digicel still has the edge re: reliability and Internet/data plan. Digicel’s 4G Network has better coverage and better rates island-wide. For example, Digicel mobile network is far better in the Falmouth area than LIME’s network.
LIME has uphill task
The battle continues between the two telecom providers in a country where ‘we love to talk.’ If the trend continues, Digicel will continue to dominate the market. Their strategy is simple. Anything LIME does, we match it. This was evident during the number portability promotions. They can afford to do it as big market leaders. LIME has a tough road ahead.