MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat Loose Autocracy over Subscribers – NCC

As from Monday, the much awaited” Number porting” starts, the telecommunications umpire in Nigeria NCC, announced over the weekend. NCC spokesman stated that a Lagos kick off starts on Monday, the networks to be affected are the big four “MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat.

Beginning from Monday, the telecommunications companies would become one big democratic environment and loose the autocracy phone companies have over its subscribes, where the over 113 million subscribers have the “mandate” to vote out any non-performing operator and migrate to another network without changing their phone numbers or identity.

Using his Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card, the subscriber could do this as often as he or she desires without visiting the customer centre.

This would do a lot to ensure the networks sit up and deliver as promised, Companies and individuals now need not fear to advertise the numbers and opt to leave any none performing network without the fear of losing customers who may have already memorised their numbers.

Although a kick off date has been selected (Monday) but it seems that issues have already arisen according to our sources, some of the operators had, on several occasions, had reason to petition the NCC over interconnectivity issues, the reason of which the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) take-off date was postponed for, at least, three times. It seems that the clearing house (the major driver for the technical side of the project),does not appear ready to carry the operators along. Operators are already expressing doubt over the possibility of sustaining the scheme after Monday’s launch.

When asked how the networks are expected to plan ahead for subscribers when they can not determine from day to day the number of active subscriber, the Senior Manager, Managed Services, Interconnect Clearing House Nigeria Limited, Mr. Johnson Farotimi, tried to make something clear, he said subscribers could only migrate after 90 days of being on each network.

According to him, telecoms operators are already upgrading their infrastructure and investing in new equipment.

“Today, Interconnect is ready to connect operators. When the process starts fully, it will take a two-day process, while the subscriber can only change to another number after 90 days.”

Talking about the technical capacity of the Clearing House to manage the technicalities of porting and the expected traffic it would generate from over 113 million active subscribers, ALTON chairman, Adebayo, said: “I can’t say ‘yes or no’ to their capabilities; the reason being that they were appointed by the regulator to handle the process. I believe that the regulator must have done their home works before appointing them. But report we have heard said they are doing well.”

However he said that the MNP is not the real solution to the current challenges of the sector, he said:

“MNP will give customers more choices, but it is the experience on the network that will determine their satisfaction. I don’t see MNP as alternative to the challenges we have in the sector.”   On the readiness of ALTON members, Adebayo said: “ALTON subscribed to MNP. We have provided all the support as required by the NCC. Every one has gone to Interconnect Clearing House. We have made a lot of investments in manpower, engineering, hardware and software, among others.”

How this would play out is yet to be ascertained, what is clear is that there is sure to be a lot of cross carpeting and number migrations, issues are certain to arise, challenges would come, but one thing is certain, this is a step in the right direction. We would only wait and see how it all plays out in the coming months

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