The future of number portability in New Zealand will depend on a "cost benefit study" of the net economic benefits to society, to be carried out by an independent body.
The study will be commissioned by the Numbering Administration Deed management committee after "terms of reference" have been agreed and is expected to take six months. Committee chairwoman Liz Longworth says the terms of reference will take two to three months to complete and then a tender process will be used to find a suitable "expert".
After the report is received the eight telcos who signed the deed "have to consider where to go from there". This may or may not involve a move to number portability.
The need for the study was specified in the Numbering Administration Deed agreement and was the target of criticism from several telcos, both signatories and non-signatories, who felt the process would be too slow.
The International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG) has described a cost-benefit study as a time-wasting exercise when overseas studies and experience make the benefits clear.
Economic efficiency, says INTUG vice-president for Asia-Pacific Anne Hurley, needs to be balanced with the objectives of promoting competition and the welfare of consumers.