Eugene Juwah, Okechukwu Itanyi, Alhaji Bintube and Admiral Allison Maduekwe

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria yesterday joined other countries of the world in the telecommunications super-highway by formally launching the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP) scheme in the country.

The launch also signposts an imminent end to the seemingly ‘endless’ nationwide registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in the country. The exercise, which began in early 2011, has seen both the operators and Federal Government sinking huge financial resources.

Speaking at the official launch of the implementation of MNP in the country, the executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of the NCC, Dr Eugene Juwah, assured that SIM reg would end soon, adding that the regulator was currently saddled with the responsibility collating and harmonising the data collected from the operators and those submitted by the agents hired by the commission for the exercise.

Speaking on the launch of the MNP scheme in the country, he said it is in furtherance of the commission’s vision of providing not only access to telecommunication services to Nigerians at affordable cost but also to continue to provide the required stimulus and appropriate environment for the introduction of innovative services that will impact on quality of telecommunication service delivery.

According to Juwah, MNP has been identified as one such services that could further deepen the competition in the telecommunications market, adding that with the growing reliance and dependency on mobile communications for everyday socio-economic interactions.

“The vision of the commission is not only to provide access to telecommunication services to Nigerians at affordable cost but to also to continue to provide the required stimulus and appropriate environment for the introduction of innovative services that will impact on quality telecoms service delivery.

“Our mobile subscriber numbers have become our identity and in most cases, we are required to provide our mobile (telephone) numbers while filling out forms in opening bank accounts, making hotel and airline bookings.

“With the launch of MNP, consumers of telecommunications services will no longer need to acquire new numbers in order to move from one network service provider to another. They will simply take along their existing numbers along with them to any network of their choice. The power and freedom of choice will henceforth rest with the consumer. If a consumer is dissatisfied with the quality of services being provided by a service provider, s/he can simply port out of that network to any network of his/her choice without losing his/her subscriber number,” Juwah said.

According to Juwah, with the launch of MNP, there will be no need for customers to engage in the usually painful exercise of trying to commit phone numbers to memory, neither will they need to frequently change complimentary cards, billboards, letter-heads and other corporate documents.

He pointed out that there are rules governing the process of customers porting from one network to another and regulating the implementation of by network providers. “These rules are contained in the Mobile Number Portability Business Rules already published and available on the Commission’s website. In addition, the commission has also developed Regulations for Mobile Number Portability. It is anticipated that these documents will provide guidance, promote transparency and healthy competition among service providers,” the NCC chief said.

He added that MNP will revolutionise that way calls are currently being routed since National Destination Codes (NDC), that is, the network prefix such as 0802, 0803, 0805, 0809 usually identified with operators will no longer play the role of unique identifier. He added that preparatory to the implementation of MNP, NCC adopted the ‘All Call Query (ACQ)’ option for routing calls and SMS in line with international best practice.

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