Ghana: Initial pre-testing of mobile number portability done
Initial test runs on the mobile number portability (MNP) system done on May 4, 2011 was successful, custodians of the central database of all ported numbers, Porting Access Ghana (PXS) said.
Saqip Nazir is the Managing Director of PXS, and he said in March all the manual pre-testing between the central database and all the six operator networks were completed, and in April the networks connected their Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to the central database.“On May 4, 2011, the first end to end porting was done and it took between 10 to 15 minutes out of a possible 24 hours,” he said.
He said that may not mean the system is absolutely full-proof but it indicates how committed and cooperative the operators have been in the process so far. “I must say the operators here have been pretty fantastic – they’ve all been very cooperative – everyone has mostly done their work – there may have been few hitches here and there, but everyone has played along and they are working very hard to make sure everything is successful,” he said.
Nazir says PXS has invested more than a million dollars to set up two redundant data centres where a database of all ported numbers would be kept, adding that PXS would serve as a routing centre, dealing strictly with the telecom operators and not subscribers.
“Our role is mainly technical and never regulatory – all regulatory matters would still be handled by the NCA so if customers have issues they need to report to their network provider and the network would then have to report to NCA and not to us,” he said.
He explained that PXS would manage the whole porting process by receiving requests from recipient networks and carry on requests to donor networks and when the process is complete, PXS would then broadcast to all the networks and stakeholders which network the ported numbers now belong to.
PXS also manages MNP in Kenya where it has been accused by one operator, Safaricom, of favouring another operator, Airtel, but Nazir said PXS Ghana is on good terms with all operators in Ghana and would not favour one operator against others.
“We are on good terms with all operators and we have visited each of them and informed them that we have a job to do in Ghana and we will do it without fear or favour – we invested our own money and we will not favour anyone at our own detriment,” he said.
But he was also quick to add that the problems in Kenya was because MNP was launched when not all operators were ready, but in Ghana everything is being done to ensure that by the time of launch every operator would be ready.
MNP Consultant for the National Communications Authority (NCA), Bob Palitz said some NCA staff are being trained to man an NCA desk at PXS and over the porting process and ensure everybody, including PXS are playing by the rules. He said there are still layers and layers of testing that need to be done to ensure that the operators are fully ready before the launch. Palitz said each of the six operators need to do pre-testing with five others so there would be 30 exercises in all and just a few have been done so far.
He noted there is need for the operators to also test calls from and to ported numbers for billing purposes so they would not bill numbers wrongly because of the network prefix. “Vodafone also needs to configure their fixed line network to be able to recognize calls from ported 020 numbers as outside network calls, and also recognize calls from 024, 026, 027, 028, 023, 054 and 057 which may have ported to Vodafone as on-network calls and bill them as such,” he said.
He said all that need to be pre-tested, including even calls from overseas to ensure that the international gateways would be able to associate ported numbers with the new networks in spite of the network prefix, and bill them accordingly.
“It is important to note that when MNP starts, networks will no more be identified with their prefix because you can have numbers with different prefixes on all the networks – but porting is likely to start with a sharp rise to a point, plateau for a while and start rising gradually as subscriber numbers increase,” he said.