3 May 2012

Nigeria: Guidelines for Number Portability Released

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released guidelines for the planned introduction of number portability across networks.

The new rule exempts subscribers from paying any fee that may be charged by telecoms operators, when subscribers make request to telecoms operators, asking for number porting from one network to another.

According to the guidelines released on the NCC's website recently, a service provider is responsible for maintaining appropriate records to satisfy the billing and audit requirements of Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

Services and traffic terminated to ported numbers on an individual recipient operator's network must be charged the same as for traffic and services terminated to non-ported numbers of the same recipient operator. Neither recipient operators nor donor operators may make a charge to the customer for porting their number.

Addressing customer care in number porting, the document explained that a customer who ports their number from one mobile service provider to another should be treated in the same way as a customer who ceases service with one mobile service provider and begins service with another.

According to the document, where customers suffer disruption to their mobile service, and it is unclear in which network the problem lies, the mobile service providers will cooperate in good faith to locate and resolve the problem.

In addressing customer complaints as regards challenges that customers may face during number porting, the NCC document stipulated that complaints specifically related to the porting process should be directed to, and be dealt with by the recipient operator who has submitted the porting transaction to the central order handling system, following their normal internal processes. Otherwise, non-porting process related complaints that relate to the provision of services to the customer should be referred to the party that is providing the contracted service that is the subject of the customer's complaint.

In the case where it is unclear to whom the complaint should be directed and the complainer is unclear who their contracted service provider was at the particular time the issue occurred, then the complaint should be directed to the recipient operator.

The document, however, explained that the recipient and donor operators should cooperate in good faith to resolve the complaint between them and the complainer.

The objective of the guidelines, according to NCC, is to ensure protection of consumer interest through the development, monitoring and enforcement of compliance with regulations by telecommunications service providers in order to ensure better quality services, fair pricing and competition, and in line with the provisions of section 128 of the NCC Act 2003, which vests the NCC with the exclusive right to regulate numbers and number portability in Nigeria.

In telecoms parlance, number porting is the movement of subscribers' number from one network to another without losing the original number. A customer with a particular network may decide to migrate his or her telephone number to another network, if the customer is unsatisfied with the service delivery of the initial network, and the customer does so while still retaining the initial number on the new network.

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