- POTRAZ expects mobile operators to implement number portability in 2014
- POTRAZ says it regards number portability as an important regulatory tool to widen subscriber choice and promote service based competition
A source in the industry has told us that POTRAZ just issued a notice to all mobile operators in Zimbabwe informing them that number portability will need to be introduced in 2014. The notice, a copy of which we have, informs and seeks input from the mobile operators on the implementation of mobile number portability.
Portability will make it possible for mobile subscribers to keep their phone numbers when they move from one network to another. Say for example a subscriber has a 071x xxx xxx NetOne number, they’d be able to keep this even after migrating to the Econet network which has a 077x xxx xxx range.
In the notice POTRAZ says: “The inability of subscribers to retain their respective mobile telephone numbers when they change service providers presents an obstacle to competition and an inconvenience to the customers.”
According to POTRAZ, the notice represents the first step in moving towards number portability in Zimbabwe. Input form the operators on the technical considerations to implement portability, the document says, will be taken into account when the regulator comes up with the Number Portability Framework and Regulations. POTRAZ reiterates in the notice that it expects operators to include Number Portability in their respective plans for 2014.
Subscribers and consumer organisations in Zimbabwe have been lobbying POTRAZ to introduce number portability for a while now. Number portability, subscribers have said, will enable them to vote with the wallets when a an operator is providing poor service.
According to the statistics last released by POTRAZ earlier this year, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has 8 million subscribers, Telecel 2.4 million, and NetOne 2.1 million.
Number portability is expected to benefit the smaller operators in the market who are looking to attract subscribers away from the dominant ones. With the issue of keeping their old number resolved, subscribers are unlikely to think twice before switching to better deals and service offered by challenger operators. Econet Wireless is therefore likely to be affected negatively in this regard and will have to make significant value propositions matching or exceeding that of Telecel and NetOne.
It’s not clear if number portability will include the CDMA VoIP operators like Africom and Powertel. We’re guessing so. We will update once we get confirmation from the operators or POTRAZ.