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Scandal rocks mobile number portability

By on May 12, 2013

There were indications at the weekend that the newly introduced, 20-day old Mobile Number Portability, MNP, may have run into a scandalous hitch owing to some alleged sharp practices on the part of one of the major operators in the Global System of Mobile Telecommunications, GSM, Sunday Vanguard can reveal.

This development, it was gathered, compelled the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and interconnect clearing house, Interconnect Nigeria, ICN, to summon an emergency meeting of the operators in Lagos last Thursday.

At the meeting which had all the operators in attendance, the regulator and the clearing house painted “a dismally low porting activity since the exercise commenced”.
A very dependable source at the review meeting said the following status update was reeled out by NCC and ICN:

Total no of porting requests so far: 4,659
Total completed successfully: 2,456
Total still in progress: 501
Total failed: 1702

The snag in the process, it was gathered, “is that the donor operators appear not to be disposed to quickly processing and releasing the lines to the receiving operator.”

“It is the underhand practice that appears to have accounted for the low success rate of porting. Although it is early days yet, the figure of less than 5,000 considering the millions of subscriber base in GSM operations in the country is incongruous”.

At the Thursday meeting, NCC and ICN admonished the operators “to ensure that they do not bring dishonour into the exercise”.

Although it turned out to be a meeting of muted suspicion, the operators suspected foul play “and urged both the NCC and ICN to investigate the dismal figure and intervene appropriately to restore order and public confidence in the process”.

To this end, according to our source, “NCC threatened to apply the maximum sanction against any operator that violates the porting regulations. NCC officials pledged to swiftly put in place fines and other regulatory measures that will help to restore sanity in the whole process.

Following the meeting and the suspicion of sabotage by some of the telecom operators, “the ICN and its partners interrogated their data to see if any of the operators had deliberately stalled the process. Investigations revealed that the staggering discovery that followed rattled the ICN and its partners”.

The source explained, “It was discovered that instead of the abysmally low figure of over 4,000 porting requests recorded, the total number of porting requests made were discovered to have been almost twenty-folds, out of which over half were found to be authentic after proper diagnosis. It was gathered that during the first wave of investigation, the sabotage was traced to a player in the industry, thereby denying two other players the benefit of porting”.

Investigations are on-going. It was gathered that NCC and the clearing agents will soon announce various strategies to compel operators to play by the rules. Porting operations started on April 22, 2013.