Full number portability remains a pipedream


South Africa's mobile network operators

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) THE Independent Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) is wary of the snail pace in implementing number portability in the country.

The association noted the imminent arrival of 2022 will mark the 16th year since the incomplete introduction of the system.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) thus has over a decade and a half to fully implement number portability.

ICASA has attributed the latest delay is in the finalisation of technical specifications for the porting process.

“Finalising the process should be straightforward and the continued delays are inexplicable and contributing to making the cost to communicate higher than it should be for South Africans,” stated Dominic Cull, regulatory advisor to ISPA.

“ISPA accepts that the focus is correctly on spectrum, but number portability has been calling for 16 years. Some multitasking would ensure that South Africans are not prevented from having full freedom of choice when it comes to telephony providers.”

ISPA has been corresponding with ICASA, urging it to bring finalisation to this lingering process.

Rooted in the principle of consumer choice, number portability has enabled millions of people to change their network operator without losing their telephone number.

Yet, while over 1 million geographic numbers and 8 million mobile numbers have been ported, it remains impossible to port non-geographic numbers used by local businesses, non-profit organisations and consumers for toll-free, shared-cost, premium rate and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

These include numbers starting with 0800, 0860, 0861, 0862 and 087.

ISPA said its members had reported substantial pent-up demand from users of non-geographic numbers who wish to be able to switch to better alternatives.

These users are usually large corporates or NGOs that have invested in the often easy-to-recall numbers as part of their corporate identity.

Industry and the Number Portability Company (NPC) have pledged readiness to port non-geographic numbers.

All that remains for the South African economy and consumer to enjoy the full benefits of number portability, is for ICASA to prioritise this process and to pronounce the implementation date, ISPA stated.

– CAJ News













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