Nigerian mobile phone subscribers have joined subscribers in other countries worldwide that port their numbers from one network operator to another with the inauguration of the first phase of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Monday in Lagos.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Bath Nnaji, House of Representatives Chairman on Communications, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, and the Executive Commissioner of NCC, Eugene Juwah, were among other dignitaries that cut the tape to inaugurate the service across GSM networks.
The second phase would be inaugurated with the fixed wireless operators like Visafone and Capcom in due course, according to the commission.
Singapore was the first country to inaugurate MNP in 1997, followed by United Kingdom and The Netherlands in 1999 while Spain, Switzerland and Sweden inaugurated MNP between 2001 and 2002.
United States inaugurated in 2003, South Africa in 2006 and Ghana in 2012 while Nigeria just joined the league.
Explaining how number portability works, the Chief Operating Officer of Interconnect Clearing House of Nigeria (ICHN), Mr. Uche Onwudiwe, said any subscriber, who wished to port their numbers would first have to visit the recipient service provider to make his intention known.
“The subscriber is given a form to fill his personal details and would be asked to send ‘Port’ to a short code, 3232.
“When this is done, Interconnect Clearing House, the company with the hosting right to manage exchange of traffic for the MNP scheme, will then send a message to the telecoms operator, informing it of the intention of the subscriber to port from its network to another network.
“The recipient network will then give the subscriber a new SIM card and a confirmation text is sent to the subscriber.
“It takes 48 hours to complete the porting exercise,” Onwudiwe said.
Juwah, who spoke at the inauguration, stated that the scheme had huge potentials for the growth of the economy, and that it would further drive investment.
According to him, “Nigeria is ranked as the fastest growing telecoms market in the world with the largest number of connected and active mobile lines in Sub-saharan Africa, placed at about 113 million.”
He said: “This achievement is not just a representation of out population as a nation, but it shows the level of energy put into the telecoms sector.”
Juwah added that the vision of the commission was to provide the required stimulus and appropriate environment that would better impact on the network.
Commending the NCC, Ojo stated that MNP would enhance competition among the network operators.
Nnaji, who was represented by Hon. Tony Adebiyi, a member of the Senate Committee on Communications, applauded NCC for the inauguration and tasked the operators to ensure that the scheme is successful.
“Mobile Number portability has been a huge success around the world, because it helps to level the playing field, giving all operators more opportunities to grow their subscriber bases and revenues. We therefore urge our service providers to make it successful,” he said.
All GSM operators were present at the inauguration where they expressed their readiness on the implementation of the service in Nigeria.
Reeling some of the conditions for porting, Juwah said subscribers would be allowed to port to another network free of charge, once in every 90 days.
In technical parlance, Mobile Number Portability is a process that allows subscribers to migrate from one network to another, in search of better service quality, while still retaining the original phone number, irrespective of the network the subscriber chooses to migrate to.
JD:This is a very welcome development in the telecoms sector and we hope this will lead to better service and lower rates for subscribers.I would have loved if the NCC hadn’t lifted the ban on promotions to boost sales.What that would have meant is that there will be only two factors that would keep subscribers on a network,good service and rates. Wether subscribers would be willing to mortgage this for the chance to win a plane is yet to be determined.