• Sunday, May 26, 2024
businessday logo


Struggle for market share intensifies as number portability begins


The commencement of the much awaited mobile number portability (MNP) scheme on Monday will toughen the battle for market share among telecommunications operators in Nigeria’s highly competitive market, analysts said at the launch of the service in Lagos.

Today, holders of the country’s over 114 million phone lines can now retain their mobile phone numbers when changing from one operator to another.

As at the third quarter of 2012, according to Renaissance Capital, United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat has a 13.4 percent market share. India’s Airtel and second national carrier, Globacom, have 19.7 percent and 20.7 percent market share, respectively. While South Africa’s MTN still dominates the market with 42.5 percent market share.

Market analysts envisage that there would be either upward or downward movement in market share of telecoms operators as subscribers search for better quality of service, reduced tariffs and innovative products and services.

In his opening remarks, Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the introduction of the scheme marks another milestone in the country’s vibrant telecoms sector which has grown from a paltry 400, 000 connected lines in 2001 to over 100 million lines in 2013. “Mobile number portability has been identified as a service

that can deepen competition in the telecoms market. With the increased reliance on mobile phones, our numbers have become our identity.

“With the launch of the service, subscribers will no longer have to acquire new numbers to move to other networks. The power and freedom of choice rests with the subscriber. If a customer is dissatisfied with the service on a particular network, he or she can port to another network. Telecoms subscribers will no longer have to cram mobile numbers and change business cards”, he explained.

Speaking in the same vein, Josephine Amuwa, chairman of the implementation committee, said in furtherance of the NCC’s mandate as copiously spelt out by the Communications Act 2003, the telecoms regulator had considered it expedient to introduce the scheme into the market to deepen competition, improve quality of service, and widen the distribution of services.

“The advent of number portability in Nigeria will do away with the phenomenon of ‘lock-in’ which is a principal obstacle to consumer choice. There will be intense struggle for market share amongst operators now.”

The legal, regulatory and operational framework for MNP, according to her, began with the publication of the MNP consultation paper in year 2010, further adding that the consultation paper outlined all the key strategies for porting in Nigeria. Amuwa pointed out that the number portability scheme would be implemented in phases.

“First, the scheme would start with GSM operators and the next phase will take care of fixed operators”.

At the launch ceremony, mobile operators took turns to give insight into the level of their preparedness for the scheme. It became a corporate marketing war as network operators bragged about their capacity to   deliver unrivaled service. “We have made significant investment in the network (porting, call routing, and billing) to ensure that we deliver effective service to our subscribers. There has also been extensive training for our front-end staff to also ensure porting is seamless”, Brett Goshen, chief executive officer, MTN Nigeria, said at the launch.

“The scheme affords customers the opportunity to move to the best network (Airtel) while remaining with their numbers. It will also free up the time of the NCC to develop policies to drive the industry forward.

“The regulator would not place strong focus on quality of service but channel their energies towards creating the right environment for subscribers. It will offer an opportunity for operators to compete on tariff, quality of service and innovative products and solutions”, Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer, Airtel Nigeria, said.

Deolu Ogunbanjo, president of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), noted that “subscribers are excited. We have power of choice. It will definitely give the operators a good run for their money.”


Ben Uzor Jr