NUMBER PORTABILITY: NETWORKS CAN'T CHARGE SUBSCRIBERS - NCC
By Adekunle Adekoya
AHEAD of the actualisation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the country in the next few months, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has directed network operators to provide the service free to subscribers. Mobile Number Portability allows subscribers to migrate from one service provider to another and still retain their numbers.
Section 6 (3) of Nigeria Mobile Number Portabilty , Business Rules & Port Order Processes dated March 2012 and posted on the regulator's portal, states, inter alia:
'Neither recipient operators nor donor operators may make a charge to the customer for porting their number.'
NCC issued the directive ahead of making MNP available to the public, after appointing a consortium of telcos to handle the service that for now excludes fixed wireless and fixed lines services.
Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah had earlier hinted at the possibility of launching the MNP service by September during a parley with the media in Lagos, adding this would give mobile subscribers freedom to accept and reject their service providers at will while retaining their numbers.
In the document cited above which develops the framework for number portability in Nigeria, NCC maintained that recipient operators must treat incoming subscribers from other networks same way it treats its existing subscribers.
Section 6 (1) and (2) says so:
1. A service provider is responsible for maintaining appropriate records to satisfy the billing and audit requirements of MNP (and of its operational licence).
2. Services and traffic terminated to ported numbers on an individual recipient operator's network must be charged the same as for traffic and services terminated to non-ported numbers of the same recipient operator.
The recipient operator is the service provider acquiring a new subscriber through number portability, and after completion of the porting process is providing service for the subscriber in question. Conversely, the donor operator is the network losing a subscriber through number portability.
On the porting time scale, the regulator disclosed that the mobile service providers have agreed that post-paid single account customers will only be allowed to port within two working days during the working week, Monday to Saturday between 08.00 hrs and 22.00 hrs and Sunday between 11.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs.
On the other hand, post-paid multiple account customers are expected to port within five working days during the working week, Monday to Saturday between 08.00 hrs and 22.00 hrs and Sunday between 11.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs.
Also pre-paid customers can port within two working days during the working week, Monday to Saturday, between 08.00 hrs and 22.00 hrs and Sunday between 11.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs.
NCC Boss, Juwah
'Pre-paid multiple porting requests must be processed as individual porting requests, since the multiple porting request relies on accounts being ported belonging to the same account hierarchy with the donor operator, which does not apply to pre-paid services,' according to the document.
'Following the approval of the MNP framework, the commission began plans to develop the regulatory, legal and technical framework for the implementation of MNP in Nigeria as well as the process of selecting a suitable vendor to run the Number Portability Clearing House in Nigeria with the publication of an Request for Quotation document for the provision of services with regard to the administration of Number Portability Clearing House in Nigeria,' the commission said.
The regulator also spelt in clear terms the obligation of network operators as it concerns welfare of subscribers. Section 7 of the document cited above states as follows:
1. A customer who ports their number from one mobile service provider to another should be treated in the same way as a customer who ceases service with one mobile service provider and begins service with another.
2. For the avoidance of doubt, this means that a customer who chooses to export their number will be subject to the same processes of cease and final bill issue etc, as a ceasing customer.
3. Where a customer suffers a disruption to their mobile service, and it is unclear in which network the problem lies, the mobile service providers will cooperate in good faith to locate and resolve the problem.
Thinking ahead of subscribers who may opt to perpetrate fraud through number portability, the regulator, in Section 9 provided thus:
1. The mobile service providers have agreed to cooperate in good faith to prevent, wherever possible, instances of fraudulent or unauthorised activities.
2. If instances of fraud are detected then the mobile service providers will endeavour to cooperate to identify and pursue action against the perpetrators of the fraud.
3. All cooperative activities will be conducted accepting the prevailing data protection and privacy laws applicable to the situation, and any other company or business laws which may be appropriate.
Envisaging dissatisfaction in one way or the other in the porting process, NCC stated as follows in Section 8:
1. Complaints specifically related to the porting process should be directed to, and be dealt with by the recipient operator who has submitted the porting transaction to the central order handling system, following their normal internal processes.
Otherwise, non-porting process related complaints that relate to the provision of services to the customer should be referred to the party that is providing the contracted service that is the subject of the customer's complaint.
2. In the case where it is unclear to whom the complaint should be directed e.g. where the cause of the complaint occurred during the porting process and the complainer is unclear who their contracted service provider was at the particular time the issue occurred, then the complaint should be directed to the recipient operator. However, the recipient and donor operators should cooperate in good faith to resolve the complaint between them and the complainer.
3. If the complaint cannot be resolved between the recipient and donor operators then the complaint should be escalated to the NCC for resolution.
4. Complaints received by the NCC should be passed to the relevant mobile service provider where this is appropriate. Complaints that are not in relation to a particular mobile service provider, but are made in relation to the MNP porting process as operated and managed within Nigeria, should be dealt with by the NCC where this is possible and/or appropriate.
Complaints received by the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria (CPC) should be passed to the relevant mobile service provider or the NCC where this is appropriate. Complaints that are not in relation to a particular mobile service provider, but are made in relation to the MNP porting process as operated and managed within Nigeria, should be dealt with by the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria (CPC) where this is possible and/or appropriate or passed to NCC for resolution.
5. The Complainant should be kept abreast of the progress of their complaint, through to resolution.
6. In the case where a complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, it is the responsibility of the operator to whom the complaint is addressed to inform the complainant of their rights in relation to appeals and/or escalations.