Porting Crosses Half-a-million Mark

The number of people who have successfully changed their mobile phone network service providers while maintaining their contact numbers exceeded 500,000 as at the end of Wednesday, last week. This has put the National Communication Authority (NCA) target of seeing about 600,000 porting by year-end in range, as competition in the telecom sector deepens. The NCA introduced the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) --- which allows consumers to switch network operators while keeping their original contact numbers -- into the telecom sector in July last year with the view of offering subscribers choice in their mobile life. The number of successfully ported mobile phone numbers so far achieved represents just about two percent of the total active mobile numbers in the market, a figure reasonably comparable to markets in which MNP is considered successful. The NCA’s consultant on implementation of the MNP, Robert Palitz, said the time needed for a consumer to port their number has also improved significantly. “In addition to having passed 500,000 successful ports, the process is getting faster for most people. “The average porting time during that period (last week) was 17 minutes, 19 seconds. But in fact, 45% of requests were completed in 5 minutes or less; 77% in 10 minutes or less; 84% in 15 minutes or less; and 95% in 30 minutes or less. “So for the overwhelming majority of people who want to port their numbers, the entire process is completed while they are still with the agent or shop of the network they are joining,” he said. The Director of Regulatory Administration at the NCA, Joshua Peprah, has explained that the number of ports expected at the end of the year rests on the willingness of consumers to respond to both positive and negative competitive factors, adding: “The most important point to take away is that the ability to change networks without changing numbers is a very significant consumer empowerment. “For us, it serves a check on the network operators to live up to expectations.” Officials of the NCA is of the conviction that the impact from introduction of the MNP on telecom operators has been significant, as it has helped to push mobile network operators to improve on their quality of service and product offerings in order to satisfy and retain their customers. Mr.Saqib Nazir, Chief Executive Officer of Computer Information Systems Limited, the firm that is partnering Porting Access Ghana to undertake the implementation of the MNP in the country, said: “Ghana has been a wonderful success for number portability. The collaboration between stakeholders has been wonderful from the start. “We had some expectations for porting, but overall the numbers have been good.” Under the policies already adopted by Ghanaian telecom authorities, the customer will go to the shop of a service provider to which s/he wishes to move and they will handle all the details, working through the central systems to communicate with the customer’s original mobile service provider. The customer will not have to go to his original network to beg for permission to leave. From that point onward the customer will be using the new network, but all calls and messages will still come to him/her at the original number, and when s/he makes calls or sends messages, the original number will be shown to the person with whom s/he is communicating. To prevent subscribers from abusing the system by frequently moving from one network to the other, which has the tendency to cause disruption in the system, it has been decided that subscribers will have to stay with a network for at least 30 days before they can be allowed to move to another network.