THE much-awaited Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) number portability, which allows GSM subscribers to migrate from one network to another without changing their old number takes off today, bringing to an end months of experimentation to see the workability of the idea.
The migration, which will be at no cost to the subscriber, is expected to improve the service of the operators, as each service provider has to up its game with a bid to satisfying the subscribers.
According to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the gesture would eventually be extended to telecommunications subscribers on CDMA and fixed lines.
In preparing operators and subscribers for number portability, NCC had, last year, released guidelines for the planned introduction of number portability across networks.
The guidelines exempt subscribers from paying any fee that may be charged by telecoms operators, when they asked for number porting from one network to another.
According to the guidelines released on the website of the NCC, 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 numbers.
The exercise, according to the NCC, would address all the problems in the telecoms industry, while guaranteeing freedom of choice for subscribers, redefining competition in the industry and allowing subscribers to use only one phone while operating on the platform of their choice.
In line with the directive by the NCC, porting could only be undertaken by visiting the customer service offices or outlets, as the exercise would not be available through telephone, online or other electronic means.
Subscribers are equally advised against terminating their services with their existing service providers before initiating porting with new service providers.
While, according to NCC, there is a 90-day restriction for a porting before another one, subscribers to new service providers are mandated to bring identification cards, passports, driving licences or an officially validated photographic identity document and the working mobile numbers they wish to port into their new operators’ stores.
Meanwhile, Globacom and Airtel Nigeria have announced their readiness for the commencement of the porting exercise which begins across the country today.
Globacom, in a statement released in Lagos recently, said it was operationally and systemically set for the take-off the portability on its network, adding that it had completed the procurement and implementation of the network Signal Routing System (STP) and the porting process or gateway management system, which was the first to be commissioned in the country.
Airtel’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, while speaking with journalists in Lagos at the weekend, said the company was excited with the kick-off of MNP and assured that with the company’s robust and expanded 3.75g network coverage, many Nigerian subscribers who had waited so long to join the “best friends network” could finally exploit the new window offered by the MNP to realise their wishes.
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