By Omobayo Azeez
Porting activities by subscribers of mobile GSM telephony in Nigeria have increased by 10.91 per cent in November.
The is as the telecoms consumers sustained their frantic search for better services on the networks of services providers comprising MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile.
According to latest data obtained from the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), porting activities gained traction in the month of November, 2019 to 33,580 from 30,777 figure recorded in October.
In the telecoms parlance, porting is a technical arrangement that allows subscribers to retain the original number of their subscriber’s identity module (SIM) card if they choose to migrate to the network of another service provider.
Since 2013 when porting was introduced, telecoms subscribers have been enjoying the freedom to migrate to various networks using the same telephone number, even as the system demand minimum of 90-day stay on a network before moving to another.
With the November porting statistics, outgoing porting activities outpaced incoming.
Out of the grand porting total, 17,669 subscribers vacated their original network providers to try their lucks with other operators as they scout for more flexible and cheaper tariffs, better data bundle offers and improved quality of service.
On the flip side, 15,911 other subscribers came onboard networks of service providers other than the one whose SIM cards they are carrying.
In terms outgoing porting, Airtel Nigeria lost 12,446 subscribers to competitor, being the highest out-porting in the month. Globacom trailed with 2,164, while MTN and 9Mobile followed suit with 1,600 and 1,459 outgoing porting activities in that order.
Conversely, Airtel equally record highest subscriber immigration from other operators with 7,894 incoming porting deals.
While 9Mobile followed with 5,758 incoming porting, MTN recorded 1,783 while Globacom welcomed only 476 customers, the fewest.
In a chat with business a.m, a subscriber and manager of a logistics company, Adebayo Adeniyi described porting as a game of chance in which the network the subscriber is migrating to may end up worse than the one he is migrating from.
“It has happened to me before. I migrated one of my lines to another network because of some incentives. Unfortunately, I regretted this as the service of my new network was nothing to write about compared to where I am coming from.
“This became more frustrating because I could not move away from the current network until after a period of 90 days.”
Another anonymous subscriber, who had had similar experience as Adeniyi said: “before porting to any network, it is better to be sure that the network is stable, else it would double disappointment for the subscriber. The alternative could be to get SIM cards of different operators, although, this may be a bad arrangement if any of the lines are attached to your business.”
Meanwhile, Deolu Ogunbanjo, the national president of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) said while porting gives subscribers the privilege to navigate various networks, the best thing for the country is still for the operators to improve their networks.
He added, “Quality of service in Nigeria is still not at its best. For instance call set-up rate that shouldn’t take more than five seconds still take up to 20 seconds sometimes. The issue of drop call is still there and porting alone cannot solve all these. The best thing is to have improved quality of service across all networks.”
Similarly, Sina Bilesanmi, national president of Association of Telephone, Cable Tv and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS) berated mobile network operators in Nigeria over poor quality of service, saying they force their consumers to pay for services they (the consumers) hardly enjoy.
Meanwhile, the NCC has asked the operators in the country to consider imposing a 45-day port restriction period for newly activated SIM cards.
The commission gave this advice after conducting a comprehensive compliance audit of the Mobile Number Portability Platform from September 4 to 6, 2019 in Lagos.
In view of the findings of the audit, NCC advised the MNP Industry Technical Working Group to discuss the possibility of the 45-day port restriction period.
The commission also reviewed other provisions of the MNP that enabled the subscribers to leave their network operator for another one.
It said the audit aimed to examine the level of success of National Porting Clearinghouse’s migration of the MNP Platform to its new technical partners, Porting Access Limited and conduct an in-depth review of planned or unplanned technical faults that occurred within the period under review.
The commission also called on the operators to remove the power to carry out ‘Emergency Repatriations’ and ‘Return to Block Operator’ from their front-end agents to mitigate the emerging trend of abuse of laid down processes and procedures.
The NCC also directed the service providers to ensure the fields for inputting MSISDN in porting request forms which had only 10 digits