Number portability has begun today in Japan. This is the rule that took effect in the U.S. too about three years ago that allows you, the customer, to take your phone number with you when you switch service providers. The rule is supposed to make it easier for unhappy customers to leave their existing services, thereby increasing competition. Japanese operators have been preparing for this for the last two years.
I wrote about this in the U.S. three years ago, and while I was in Japan by the time the rule actually took effect, I heard complaints that the entire transaction took days initially partly because operators weren’t keen on making it easy for customers to leave. By that standard, changing services is super-speedy in Japan, where it’s unthinkable to disobey a rule. I just saw a television program in which they measured how long it would take to switch services. The verdict 1 hour and 40 minutes. AND they were complaining.