•Subscribers can switch network using old number
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it is getting set to implement the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) scheme, now that the on-going Subscriber Information Module (SIM) card registration exercise is nearing completion.
The NCC does not however specify a take-off date for the MNP in it’s statement.
Meanwhile, mobile number portability operations will take-off in neighbouring Ghana, barely two weeks from now, on July 1.
MNP is a telecommunications service that enables mobile phone subscribers retain their telephone number when they change mobile operators.
This means that a subscriber can move from one mobile operator to another without losing his number. This is commonly referred to as ‘porting’.
Industry watchers have said over and again that if the NCC should institute the number portability scheme, operators would be forced to raise their service delivery standards, as unsatisfied subscribers would migrate easily to operators who offer better quality.
Nigeria currently has over 90 million active telephone lines and over 95 percent of these are mobile lines.
A great many subscribers carry more than one phone. Industry watchers say poor quality of service and high tariffs for cross-network calls are among the reasons for this.
The NCC said in a statement yesterday that ”with SIM Card Registration well on the way in different parts of the country, the attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission will, in the next few weeks, shift to number portability; a process that will allow mobile phone users to migrate from one network to another with the same number”.
It further stated: “This is in keeping with the words of the executive vice chairman, Eugene Juwa who, in his first major meeting with the media in January this year, had promised to embark on the project once the SIM Card Registration process had taken off successfully; explaining that it makes better sense to port numbers that were already registered.
“The processes that will lead to a well-managed number portability regime are largely at an advanced stage. The initial consultation paper on the implementation of mobile number portability was published on the Commission’s website in February 2009, and comments were received from the industry stakeholders and the general public”.
The observations and concerns of the network operators have been addressed and Accommodated, and the regulator, knowing the importance of the exercise and the overwhelming expectations of subsåcribers, is taking all necessary steps that will ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page on the issue, the NCC said.
Eugene Juwa, NCC’s executive vice chairman, further said that major announcements on the exercise would be made soon.
KPMG is consulting for the NCC on the exercise and is expected to handle all the back-end relationships. Juwa has assured that adequate preparations are being made to ensure the process is as flawless as possible when it takes off in the country.
The benefits of number portabiity are listed as including the freedom and convenience of retaining one’s original number while migrating from any network.
Subscribers will also receive all their calls and messages regardless of which mobile network they may have ported their numbers to, and they will not need to inform their friends, relatives, colleagues or clients about their change of mobile operators.
Subscribers will further save money as they will not have to purchase SIM cards for each mobile operator and maintain more than one mobile hand set.
Juwa said in January that the regulatory agency had received and shortlisted bids for the setting up of a number portability clearing house.