THE EFFECTS OF MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY ON TELECOMMUNICATION AND USAGE IN NIGERIA
Since the introduction of mobile telecommunication in Nigeria, there has been a massive improvement in our means of communication, which has led to the vast economic buoyancy of our country in terms of telecommunication. Mobile number portability allows mobile subscribers to retain their existing mobile number when the subscriber switches from one service provider to another. There is no doubt that the mobile number portability has not had significant impact on the telecoms sector. Even though it is still less than a year of its introduction, it surely has had various effects, both positive and negative on all the stakeholders and the quality of service delivery to customers. The network providers are also affected one way or the other, which reflects in their products and services.
It gives various network subscribers the opportunity of switching to any network of their choice without the stress of carrying multiple SIM cards bearing the same network provider. In addition, it gives the customers the power to dump a service provider whenever they fill dissatisfied with their services. Various stakeholders have sighted this, as the major effect of mobile number portability on the positive end. Conversely, the attainment of this freedom did not come on a platter of gold.
Mobile subscribers are made to undergo a registration process, which comes at the backdrop of a prior notice to be sent to the service provider informing them about your wish to opt out of their network. After registering, the subscriber is to wait for a confirmation of his switch to the new network provider. However, this confirmation process takes forty-eight hours (two days) to be effected. This practically cuts the subscribers off mobile communication for two whole days, denying them access to the usage of mobile telecommunication. In countries like the UK and US (2hours), Ghana (22mins), Australia and Singapore (3mins). This shows that it takes longer time to switch networks in Nigeria, apart from India where it takes 7 days. If it is possible to port a SIM in fellow West African countries like Ghana within 22minuites, I believe it is not impossible for Nigeria to also do so if not better than that. This will hinder the abrupt cut-off of customers from mobile telecommunication services for long hours when it takes just about ten minutes to buy and register a new SIM card of preferred network provider compared to the two days waiting period after porting.
Furthermore, the number portability system has made the assigned number series for each network provider irrelevant. A good instance was my case when I switched from a certain network (say A) to another network (B). Many of my friends got confused when they call me because my number still bears the identity (assigned number series) of network A even though am now a subscriber of network B. This shows that the number portability system has made the assigned number series of each network, which is meant to differentiate between them, irrelevant. Like in my case, I am now a subscriber to network B but still carry the identification number of network A. Hence, my caller tends to get confused on to which network provider they pull their call through to.
Another effect of the system is the influx of subscribers to a certain mobile network operators at the expense of others. This, indeed affects the quality of service delivery as the densely populated networks now has an enormous number of subscribers leaving them with the challenge of more customers, less area coverage. Due to the dense population, calls are interfered, messages not delivered, credit deduction unduly...etc. Hence, the need for service providers to create an improved service which indeed will be an extra expense.
Finally, since the mobile number portability system is aimed at giving subscribers the opportunity of making their choices amongst the numerous network providers without losing their identification number. Hence, NCC should therefore devout appreciable attention to the highlighted effects, especially the porting time so that subscribers are not made to suffer too long in the name of mobile number portability to make the dreams of repositioning the telecommunication sector a reality.