Nigeria joins countries to implement Mobile Number Portability

The National Communication Commission (NCC) has directed Mobile telecom operators doing business in the country to provide its subscribers with Mobile Number Portability. The service is aimed at enabling subscribers switch service providers freely without losing their unique/current phone numbers, at a cost to be borne by the service provider who will receive the new subscriber.

According to the NCC, the Nigerian mobile phone space has over 96.6 million active subscribers, 131.8million connected lines and a total of 178.1 million as of February 2012. Nigeria has also recorded an increase in tele-density to 69.01% of the population.

The directive was issued even as the country prepares to launch the pilot scheme of the Mobile Number Portability following the appointment of an operator for the service by keen market analyst and also marks an evolution of the telecoms sphere in the country.

Furthermore, the NCC stated in the regulatory directive issued to GSM and CDMA network operators that “For the avoidance of doubt, neither recipient or donor operators shall be allowed or entitled to charge customers for requesting to use the porting service or for porting their number,”  To this end NCC is mandating networks to offer cost-free switching between networks.

It is worthy to note that in the directive issued by the NCC, Fixed Wireless and Fixed lines services are excluded in the first phase of the Mobile Number portability rollout.

A 60-page document “Nigeria Mobile Number Portability: Business Rules and Port Order” was also issued by NCC ahead of the planned rollout of Mobile Number Portability. This provides a guideline for the implementation of the service(s) that enables subscribers choose or switch between service providers.

Mobile Number Portability allows the mobile phone users change subscription from one service provider to another while retaining the mobile numbers. NCC also maintained that the recipient operator would bear the cost of porting subscribers.

In June 2011, the Ghanaian Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu announced a policy that allowed subscribers switch from one service provider to another depending on the quality of service or the lack of it. Ghana became the first country in West Africa to start the implementation of the number portability at no cost after Kenya and South Africa who implemented MNP in April 2011 and 10 November 2006 respectively.

This same service is offered in the UK and in India free to all subscribers, in the US LNP (Local Number Portability) was mandated by FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in 1996 and as of November 2003, LNP was required for all landlines and wireless common carriers.

The policy is expected to stimulate competition between service providers and ensure quality service is delivered to mobile users.

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