Telephone subscribers have lauded the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for launching the first phase of its long awaited mobile number portability (MNP) service across all the four GSM networks, MTN, Globacom, Etisalat and Airtel, in Lagos on April 22.
Some of them claimed that the development is the best thing to have happened to telephony in Nigeria since the deregulation of the sector by the administration of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Yet others picked holes in the new policy.
MNP is a system that allows a subscriber to migrate from one network to another while still retaining his original phone number.
Though all four GSM operators were quick to declare their readiness for the commencement of MNP, their declarations to many Nigerians made no meaning for the simple fact that if they were serious about their services, the clamour for the policy would not have attained fever pitch as it did before the regulator came to the rescue of subscribers.
A telephone subscriber in the Lekki area of Lagos, Nancy Okechukwu, could not hide her joy at the MNP and the prospect of getting good value from telecommunications network while retaining her number.
She declares: “I bought my mobile telephone line in the early days of the roll out of GSM services in Nigeria. What a pride it was to display a mobile phone handset then! The number has become my personal identity of sorts, because I have entered it in forms that I completed for personal and professional use which makes it compulsory for me to retain it. Yes, I retain, because it is compulsory for me to! But I tell you the truth my service provider has tempted me to dump the line several times in the past because of poor service. It makes me sad because I notice that their priority is just money-making as against customer satisfaction. They ignore Nigerian subscribers obviously. Now with MNP, I have a choice without risking loosing established contacts. I just have to be excited, I cannot pretend about this.”
A random survey of metropolitan Lagos shows that many subscribers share similar thoughts with Okechukwu.
A financial services consultant, Olumide Bankole, a resident of the Mainland area of Lagos, thinks that “the MNP will compel telecom operators to sit up. After over 10 years after the introduction of mobile telephony in Nigeria, the operators seem to have dozed-off, operating in a cartel-like manner to rip-off subscribers with low quality services and questionable billings,” he said.