24 February 2014

Nigeria: NCC Dumps Mobile Number Portability

The mobile number portability (MNP) exercise introduced to checkmate unwholesome practices and poor quality of service (QoS) by Nigerian telecommunications subscribers may have become another wasted project. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has spent billions of naira on the exercise.

Investigations by LEADERSHIP showed that, since July 2013, the telecommunications regulator has refused to publish figures on the porting of subscribers from one network to the other. The last figures released by NCC on the MNP were for the month of May and June 2013, while the exercise was flagged off on April 22, 2013. MNP allows subscribers to change mobile network whilst retaining their phone lines by offering to accommodate dissatisfied customers.

With MNP service, mobile subscribers are free to change network merely by working into a recipient network (new operator's) service centre, fill a form to migrate and send a text message to 3232 to the National Porting Clearinghouse (NPC) which will inform the donor network (former operator) and the subscriber number and biometric data will be moved to the new network within 48 hours.

Top officials of the Commission, when contacted on the issue, refused to comment. NCC's website, where it released the initial MNP porting results by mobile operators, has not been updated. Despite calls by the third-party contractor that the regulator and mobile operators should meet to amend the guidelines for the porting which was deemed too stringent, NCC has refused to accede to their request.

NCC's CEO Eugene Juwah had said: "It is anticipated that MNP will impact the way calls are made. Lines with prefixes such as 0802, 0803, 0805, 0809 will no longer be a unique identifier for each mobile operator. We will on a monthly basis give statistics on the number of ported lines on each operator's network."

The porting service was provided free of charge for Nigerian subscribers through Interconnect Clearinghouse Limited, the national porting clearinghouse who are working together with KPMG, Saab Grintek and Telecordia and the four operators. After the first porting, subscribers are free to port again after 90 days.

Meanwhile, the regulator is yet to announce the latest telecom subscriber base controlled by the telecom operators, five months after the last results were issued. NCC last updated the telecom subscriber base of Nigerians on its website for the month ending September 2013 with 121,271,218 active subscribers. The figure is still quoted by all government functionaries in public functions.

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