10th May, 2011
The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to flag off a programme that will enable telecommunication subscibers change operator without losing their unique number.
The growing trend of multiple mobile lines is also driving the market for dual SIM handsets in Nigeria. The group disagrees with the agency’s position that the ongoing SIM registration would have to be completed before mobile number portability can begin.
National president, NATCOMS, Deolu Ogunbanjo, says number portability does not have to await SIM registration, insisting that both can and should run side-by-side, given its immense benefits to subscribers, operators, the telecoms industry and the nation as a whole.
He said: â€œWe strongly believe, as discussed herein, that with the unprecedented growth and development of the telecommunications sector in a decade, the market is ripe for number portability as a key factor that will set the stage for the next era of telecommunications development in Nigeria.â€
He tasked the NCC to demonstrate its commitment to the course of telecoms and national development by announcing a programme for the implementation of number portability by April 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the granting of digital mobile licences.
Ogunbanjo added that subscribers and consumers strongly demand good quality service, tariff reduction and number portability to consummate one decade of GSM service in Nigeria.
The association observed that the initial challenges of cost of ownership, coverage, accessibility and interconnectivity have all been reasonably addressed and offerings have also diversified to meet the ever growing needs of different market segments and niches.
“Considering what life used to be for us prior to the one decade of the telecommunication revolution in Nigeria, one gets a clear understanding of the positive impact this has had on Nigerians. The advent of GSM in 2001 has made life a lot easier for the citizens,â€ he adds.
He said Nigeria is now the largest telecommunications market in Africa, having surpassed South Africa, adding that the country is also among the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world.
According to the group, â€œsubscribers, however, endure unacceptable quality of service and a tariff regime that is not pocket friendly for the majority of consumers. They are also not empowered to change their service provider while retaining their present number as readily obtains as a matter of their consumer right as obtains in other parts of the world.â€
According to him, indeed, the impending introduction of mobile payment systems by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NCC increases the urgent need for number portability as the subscriber requirement for a unique identity to which his account is tied becomes imperative.