UgandaTelecom Regulator (UCC) contemplates Number Portability

UCC CEO

One of the first feature stories we had at the beginning of Techjaja.com had something to do with the Absence of Mobile number portability in Uganda, an article which was well received. It seems the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) the Uganda telco regulator has not decided yet whether phone companies should take up Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

NP enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another. The question comes against the backdrop of the recent takeover of
Warid Telecom by Airtel and customers’ concerns about holding onto their numbers.

“It is unfortunate that some people could be aggrieved with the merger, but as far as porting is concerned, we’re still consulting,” Patrick Mwesigwa, the Director Technology and Licensing at UCC said
recently.

He said they were still carrying out consultations to see whether number portability is viable in the Ugandan market. According to James Katsigazi an engineer working with one of the telecom companies, if Uganda had instituted the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) initiative, then people could have been cushioned from such uncertainty.

He says Warid customers would have had a choice either to link to the Airtel network or switch to other networks.

“I don’t know why UCC has not enforced the Number Portability issue. People would have used their very Sim Cards to switch to other networks of their choice,” Katsigazi said.

There are three countries in Africa that have implemented Mobile Number Portability, since its invention. South Africa and Egypt were the first, and later joined by Kenya in 2011.

However recent reports indicate the MNP has not picked up in Kenya as expected due to the ‘porting’ process itself and the relatively similar rates charged by the networks which discourages customers switching.

According to Wilson Kutegeka, an IT specialist, MNP is implemented in different ways across the globe.

“The international and European standard is for a customer wishing to port his/her number to contact the new network (Recipient), which then sends the number portability request (NPR) to the current network (Donor). This is known as ‘Recipient-Led’ porting,” Kutegeka said. He said the customer wishing to port his/her number is required to contact the Donor to obtain a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), which is then showed to the recipient network to proceed.

Although in South Africa and Egypt, the service is doing well, reports from Kenya indicate some .

Source EA business week

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