Number Portability, where is the excitement?

Mobile number portability means you can keep your existing mobile telephone number when you change your service provider. ?When you feel? that? one mobile phone service provider is not meeting your high standard you are at liberty to switch to another one at your own convenience; you get tired with Zain, move to Safaricom, get bored with Safaricom look for Orange or Yu ?and all this ?time you are keeping your very own lovely same number or line.

In number portability the ?donor network? provides the number and the ?recipient network? accepts the number. The operation of donating a number requires that a number is ?snapped out? from a network and ?snapped into? the receiving network. If the subscriber ceases to need the number then it is normal that the original donor receives the number back and ?snaps back? the number to its network. The situation is slightly more complex if the user leaves the first operator for a second and then subsequently elects to use a third operator. In this case the second operator will return the number to the first and then it is assigned to the third.

By the way, let tread with caution here before we become overexcited as you might know or not know CCK is a very slow organization and there is no guaranteed that this is going to be implemented after you give your views. For example Communications Commission of Kenya announced in 2004 that mobile number portability would be available as of July 1, 2005 and fixed-line number portability as of July 1, 2006. That never came to pass and I hope this time they are serious. Cynicism aside and let for a minute assume that CCK this round is going to do it, then what should the public be excited about? Here are the reasons why:

  1. Let start with CCK itself, the allocation of large number ranges to each Mobile Network Operator in Kenya is not the best or efficient method of managing MSISDNS(certain ranges of mobile phone numbers). Safaricom which has the highest number of subscribers started with 0722, 0721, then it went back and forward now I don?t even know the latest Safaricom prefix, may be 071 something. Then came in Zain with 0733 and all the 073 prefix ranges. I would say nobody knows for sure the exact population of Kenya but after the census, it might end up that we are around 40 millions. At the moment not even a half of that number are using mobile phones, but let fast forward the time when around 40 millions would be using mobile phones. The number of prefixes which would be required is beyond doubt huge.
  2. The current situation is like being chained on a tree. ?Many Kenyans will tell you that they remain with a certain mobile service provider because of their wide use of their phone numbers and the risk of losing some important information if they change their lines. Give them a chance to retain their lines and probably we might see the biggest switch never seen before in the Kenyan history.
  3. Remove the burden of remembering Safaricom number, Zain number, Orange Number, Yu Number (lol ). Seriously the number of things we have to fit in our head is overwhelming. In this age of machines the space of storing numbers, in the head is shrinking. For that reason alone I would welcome the number portability with an open arms. My official line has been Safaricom, but In the last two years I have had Zain line, and believe me I have never known my Zain number despite the fact that a mobile phone number consist of only nine characters. If you ask me for my Zain number the answer is let me flash you, if it is not on the phone then I have to call someone to get my own number. That does not mean I don’t value Zain line, I do and use it to call many times
  1. The current practice where calling a number in another network is damn expensive will be a thing of the past. The same will be of the ridiculous offers which are tied to within the same network like SMS Yu to Yu or Call only Safaricom network.? This tactic is used in particular by the giants of the market to discourage users from calling the other networks.
  2. With number portability there is chance operators will move away from price focused services to improved quality services as the main point. The assumption is that with the consumers changing or switching sides depending on the prevailing conditions, it would force the mobile phone companies to almost level the prices.? After which the field to create new and innovative products and services would be wide open and let say amen to that

How about the Mobile Companies

The reactions to the CCK announcement was sharp and pointed and instantly you could tell who will gain in this arrangement and who is losing. The new Orange MD agreed that it is long overdue, but Safaricom CEO was not amused at all. The arrangement is set to benefit the operators with small subscriber base. The most amazing thing about the current arrangement is that it is has only one advantage, which is, out rightly you can tell which network a subscriber belongs, but who cares about this?

Key Questions

How long will it take to transfer from one network to another one?

The proposed number of days for transferring is not making sense, why would you go for three days while it is a fact that in some countries it takes only 20 minutes to transfer.

How much is the porting fees?

1000? Seriously the reason for introducing the number portability is to allow people to port or transfer, charging amount which will definitely discourage people from transferring beats the purpose. In a country where majority survive below 2 dollars a day, Kshs. 1000 should never be mentioned anywhere.

What commercial agreement should the Mobile Phone Companies consider?

There must be some order in the market and for that it will be necessary for the Network operators to have agreement with consumers. Call it contract or something, not necessarily to tie the user but as a way of saying ?I pay this, you have to provide me with this quality of service or else!?

Kennedy Kachwanya1087 Posts

--- Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.


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