Nigeria: Etisalat, Airtel Are Biggest Gainers of Number Porting in 2013


Steve Omanufeme Etisalat and Airtel were the biggest beneficiaries of the mobile number porting introduced in April 2013, according to industry data released this week by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The porting activities of mobile network operators, as released by NCC and obtained from its website, indicate that Etisalat was the major gainer as it received a total of 23,582 port-ins as against 7,040 port-outs, amounting to a net gain of 16,542 new subscribers from May 2013 to December 2013.

Though porting activities were more on the Airtel network, it received a net gain of 15,186 new subscribers from the number porting for the period under review. Specifically, a total of 35,414 port-ins were received on the network, but 20,186 subscribers ported out from the network.

However, MTN Nigeria was the worst hit by number porting, as a total number of 29,457 subscribers left the network, in contrast to only 7,875 port ins. In effect, the network lost a total of 21,582 subscribers due to porting.

Globacom, on the other hand, lost only 309 subscribers in the seven-month period as it gained 10,139 new subscribers while losing 9,830. The network also received the least porting activities.

A month-by-month breakdown of porting activities also indicates that last September was the month with the highest activity with a total of 29,259 movements by subscribers (16,185 port-ins and 13,072 port-outs).

September was closely followed by August, with 26,479 activities, comprising 14,440 port ins and 12,039 port-outs.

The month with the least activity was June, with total porting activity of about 11,000. Mobile number portability (MNP) enables mobile users to retain their phone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.

It was introduced by NCC to address the issue of quality of service by telecoms networks, so as to give subscribers the power to change their networks without losing their numbers.

At the launch of the programme, the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Tony Ojobo, told This Day that MNP would lead to improved service quality and increase competition among operators, in addition to the introduction of value-added services by the operators to attract more subscribers to their various networks.

He said it would compel telecoms operators to be more accountable to subscribers and treat them as king. He added that it would enhance billing integrity, since operators would not want to lose customers who may be willing to shift to another network if they felt short-changed by the network's billing system.

Despite its introduction, number porting has failed to live up to expectations, as the quality of service across all networks remained abysmal during the period under review. As such, subscribers have felt no compelling need to move from one network operator to the other.