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Image: Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC)



With the launching on April 22 of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication subscribers in the country now have the opportunity of changing from one network to another without losing their number. This has been on the drawing board for some time; as a matter of fact, its launch has had to be postponed in the past to ensure that things go well once it takes off.

For the GSM subscribers, this is good news; the fear of losing their number if they changed network had been the beginning of wisdom for them in the past years. Even when they felt so dissatisfied with telephone service providers, they had been forced to remain stuck to them simply because they did not want to lose their numbers. That is expected to be history with MNP now operational.

We congratulate the NCC for making the MNP a reality. Although telecoms still has some basic challenges, like calls dropping, subscribers being billed for short messages that are not delivered, connectivity challenges, and what have you, we cannot deny the fact that Nigeria has come a long way in teledensity. From about 450,000 lines in the days of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL), the country now boasts of over 110 million telephone lines.

At the advent of the GSM in 2001, the country was seen as one vast virgin land for investors who might be interested in providing GSM services in the country; this has been proved right with the current number of subscribers hooked to one network or the other.

In spite of the challenges, it must be acknowledged that there have been improvements in the telecoms sector; some forced by competition and others by happenstances. For example, when GSM services began in the country, lines went for as high as N30,000 each, today, they are literally free. Also then, subscribers paid as much as N50 per minute for calls; this has drastically reduced. There was also the challenge of per second billing which Nigerians craved for at a time but never came because the operators said then that it was impossible. However, this too became history when a few years after, another service provider came and made that its cutting edge.

Without doubt, we have come a long way in telecoms, the MNP only being the latest in the course of the journey. It is part of the ways of ensuring that subscribers get value for their money. For now, we cannot boast of that in view of the hiccups in the system, some of which we have mentioned. But it would be unfair to close our eyes to some of the challenges facing the operators. Apart from the problem of electricity that has forced them to install at least two high capacity generators wherever they have their masts, which means a lot of money being spent on fuel to power them and the huge cost of maintenance, the challenge has become compounded with the attacks on masts in some parts of the country. Even in areas where there is relative calm, the service providers operate at the mercy of ‘area boys’ and other miscreants who attack their facilities if the companies refuse to offer money to ‘protect’ such facilities.

All said, there is still much room for improvement. MNP is good, but it should not be seen as any magic wand or cure-all panacea for the challenges in the sector. Many people change their network because the systems are congested. This problem would remain unless the systems are expanded; it is immaterial if subscribers can port or not. What we have to work on now is ensuring that we do not start to experience another round of technical hitches occasioned by MNP.


Article Credit: The Nation Newspaper

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Updated 6 Years ago

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