Beginning from Monday, the telecommunications sector would become one big democratic environment, where the over 113 million subscribers have the “sovereign mandate” to vote out any non-performing operator and migrate to another network without changing their phone numbers or identity.
Using his Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card, the subscriber could do this as often as he or she desires without visiting the customer centre.
The telecommunications ‘umpire’ — the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) — looks to the Lagos flag-off of the much-awaited number porting Monday, the four GSM operators — MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat — are already in the mood for stiff competition, issuing out details of preparedness to engage subscriber loyalty.
Beyond the veneer of support and show of readiness for the takeoff, an informed source privy to the implementation strategy, however, informed us that Interconnect Clearing House — the major driver for the technical side of the project — does not appear ready to carry the operators along.
According to the source, some of the operators had, on several occasions, had cause to petition the NCC over interconnectivity issues, the reason of which the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) take-off date was postponed for, at least, three times.
Craving anonymity, two of the four GSM operators, Saturday, expressed “strong doubts” on the possibility of sustaining the scheme after Monday’s launch.
According to them, the country is yet to come up with the needed infrastructure that will drive the process afterward the launch by the NCC and major stakeholders.
“The MNP has been the shout of everybody. But let’s wait and see (what happens) after the first three months,” a top management staff in one of the companies said.
“Today, Interconnect is ready to connect operators. When the process starts fully, it will take a two-day process, while the subscriber can only change to another number after 90 days.”
The migration process for the mobile number porting allows the subscriber to either visit a service centre or apply through a code provided by the clearing agent assigned by the NCC.
MTN’s Corporate Service Executive in Nigeria, Akinwale Goodluck, also said the company had put systems in place to make MNP a reality for mobile phone users, who are eager to join its expansive network.
“We have made all the necessary investment in infrastructure and manpower to make MNP a reality. We are confident that at the commencement date, we will be absolutely ready”, Goodluck said.
Globacom, in a forwarded statement yesterday, re-iterated that it was “system, process and operations-ready” for smooth takeoff of mobile number portability on its network.
In terms of system readiness, Glo has completed the procurement and implementation of the network signal routing system (STP) and the porting process or gateway management system (NPG), which is the first to be commissioned in the country and now completely ready for MNP service,” it said.
Group Chief Operating Officer, Mohammed Jameel, said the company‘s technical and operational teams had worked assiduously to ensure that the network is in a perfect state of preparedness to enable a smooth transition for those who are interested in porting on the Glo network.
“We are the first among all the GSM operators to put in place a functional number portability gateway (NPG) and the first to ensure an all-call query signal transport point (STP) system, which are major technical requirements for the successful take-off of mobile number portability on any network”, he said.