Introduction and Brief History of Mobile Number Portability in Nigeria
Mobile number portability (MNP) is a process which involves the transition of a mobile phone number from one GSM network to another without any alteration of the mobile number. In other words, MNP guarantees Nigeria subscribers the liberty to switch from one service provider to a preferred network operator and still retain their original number. It is also known as Mobile Number Porting and its usage is only within the boundary of GSM networks which include Airtel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN. MNP is not an entirely a new concept in the global community as it has being in existence in countries like Australia, Italy, USA and even Ghana; Nigeria’s neighbouring West African country. Infact, the list of countries where MNP is under operation is endless. But in Nigeria, MNP is a latest development as it was recently launched in Lagos in April 1st 2013 into the Nigeria’s telecommunication industry by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC). The predominant motive that triggered the evolution of MNP in the world of Nigeria’s telecommunication is to incite GSM networks to improve and expand the services they offer to subscribers. So, in their bid to attract and retain their customers, GSM networks are induced to equip and upgrade their network infrastructure that can satiate the customer’s demand for quality and efficient service provision.
The Positive Effect of MNP in Telecom Services and Usage in Nigeria.
Number Retainabilty: MNP offers subscribers who have affinity for their numbers the free-will to retain their numbers while they swap from one network to another in search of better service. This relieves customers the stress of giving out new number and also spares them of the cost of calling their family and friends to inform them that they have changed number.
Privilege to make choices: MNP precludes customers from being yoked to a network that disserve them by bequeathing them the freedom to choose network that can quench their taste of excellent service.
MNP is free: The process of MNP automatically involves no dime. Subscribers are not plagued with financial expenses before they can port their networks. Hence, its free nature enables subscribers to port as much as they want without considering the money factor.
Enhances Network Service: MNP charges the different network providers with the responsibility of streamlining and enlarging their horizon in terms of rendering quality service devoid of fluctuation.
Subscribers influence cost: It creates a type competition among network providers that makes subscribers to be treated as kings since they influence the cost of service that are offered to them
Factors that can hinder the progress of MNP in telecom Services And Usage In Nigeria
1. The condition of not returning to your original network or migrating to another network until after 90 days can be unbearable for subscribers especially if they discover that the network they have ported to has no better service to offer.
2. The inability of customers to port their network in the comfort of where they are and at their own convenient time can make a subscriber to give up the idea of porting. Imagine some government contractors or itinerate business men who have contract or business to execute in the hinterland only to discover to their greatest chagrin that the network they are operating on is too bad to manage. Infact, only the stress and cost of transporting themselves to the city are good enough to dampen their spirit of porting.
3. The situation whereby the transition to another network takes some days can deter the progress of MNP. Most subscribers may not exercise patience for their networks to be switched and again, MNP cannot offer help to subscribers who demand that their numbers be ported with immediate effect.
4. Sim card is as good as free: indubitably, in Nigeria, sim card is not only purchased at a very cheaper rate, It is also very much available in the streets of Nigeria. Most GSM workers carry these sim cards to the doorstep of subscribers convincing and begging them to buy their sim card. Based on this factor, MNP is liable to receive little or no attention.
5. Ignorance and Technological illiteracy: MNP will remain dormant when there is no public enlightenment campaign to create awareness concerning its existence. In addition, lack of technolgical know-how can cause an unthinkable setback in the success of MNP.
6. Multiple Sim Phone: MNP may suffer negligence due to the availability of multiple sim phones in the Nigerian market and they are bought at an affordable rate. Apart from the double sim phones, triple sim phones like Techno Trinity, etc and four-sim phones manufactured by Chinese Technology are storming the Nigerian market like cyclones and to add to its success, they are gaining more ground to win the hearts of many Nigerian phone users. So, in situation like this, what is the essence of porting when an average Nigerian can afford triple sim phone or double sim and single sim phones at a time with three GSM lines? Will there be any room for MNP when some Nigerians can afford the four-sim phones with the four GSM lines in Nigeria?
Without being bias with the aforementioned questions, MNP will encounter serious conundrum in its attempt to thrive if nothing is done to strongly compete with the availabilty of these multiple sim phones. Also, MNP will inescapably face unexplainable threats in gaining its desired attention if nothing is also done to counter the hindrances that are capable of downgrading its usage. Nevertheless, the quintessential vitality of MNP in the industry of Nigerian Telecommunication cannot be overemphasized as it will ensure that quality services are installed and sustained for the benefit of GSM subscribers.