by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – MORE than 10 000 numbers have been ported over the past six months during South Africa’s non-geographic number portability process.
The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has congratulated the Number Portability Company (NPC) for the success.
ISPA was commenting on the new-found ability of corporate, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and others with 0800, 086 and 087 phone numbers to move their usually heavily-advertised contact numbers to more innovative providers from early March.
They did so without losing the valuable digits.
Some 10 929 non- geographic numbers have been ported.
“Congratulations to the management and staff at the NPC for being a shining beacon of efficiency, excellence and transparency held together by the glue of accountability,” said André van der Walt, ISPA’s Chairperson.
Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom jointly own the NPC.
Shannon Swanepoel, Managing Director of ISPA member, Switch Telecom, said their company had ported individual non-geographic numbers as well as blocks of non-geographic numbers for over 100 business clients.
“These businesses have finally been freed from what was the last remaining vestige of Telkom’s monopoly,” Swanepoel.
Rob Lith, Chief Commercial Officer at Telviva, another ISPA member, noted being able to port both geographic and non-geographic numbers freed customers to move without friction to their provider of choice.
“This concludes the long drawn-out process to deliver consumers their rights to retain numbers they have widely advertised and distributed to contacts, suppliers and customers,” Lith added.
The porting exercise was some two years in planning, in which systematic incremental upgrades to NPC third party software was done.
A testing facility was provided early in the process for operators to prove their ability to use the system and to start systematically loading thousands of numbers into the test system.
Clive Fagan, General Manager of the NPC, disclosed this.
NPC’s goal was to provide a minimum of disruption to the existing number porting process and implement non-geographic number portability seamlessly without downtime to the existing operation.
Fagan described the ability as “a minor miracle.”
“As it turned out, the actual switchover was achieved in a normal maintenance window over a weekend with no downtime required,” Fagan said.
Prior to the implementation of full number portability earlier this year, South Africa had experienced 16 years of the partial implementation of number portability.
It initially came into being as a result of the 2001 Amendments to the Telecommunications Act.
It mandated the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to: “prescribe measures to ensure that number portability shall be introduced in 2005.”
Over 13,5 million mobile numbers were ported from November 2006 to January 2022.
For geographic numbers, the average number of ports per month is over 18 700 for the period April 2010 to January 2022.
– CAJ News