Business News of Thursday, 19 July 2012
For the first time in one year, the National Communication Authority (NCA) has released a detailed 16-page report on Mobile Number Portability in Ghana, showing how each operator has been doing since the launch of MNP on July 7, 2012.
The release was done with a toast by all six telecom operators, the regulator and the Minister of Communication to the success of MNP at press conference in Accra.
The NCA had said, from the start of MNP, it would not show the public how each individual telco was doing with MNP because that information was not for public consumption, but this maiden full year report is a clear departure from that position.
NCA’s MNP Consultant, Bob Palitz did a Power Point presentation of an abridged version of the report, which indicated as of July 6, 2012, one clear year after MNP launch, there has been 370,107 successful ports in Ghana, representing 75% of total porting requests for the year.
The remaining 25% were either aborted due to operator network failure, or blocked due to customers’ failure to meet the porting requirements.
According to Mr. Palitz, the total number of successful ports is 1.6% of the number of mobile phone lines in Ghana, and comprised of some 8.3% of people who ported their numbers more than once, and at least one person who has ported five times within the period.
The MNP balance sheet indicates Tigo is the biggest net winner with over 68,000 more ports into its network than ports out; Vodafone is next with over 43,000 net gain; Glo follows with over 7,500 more, followed by Airtel with over 6,800 on the positive side.
Meanwhile, the only CDMA network, Expresso finished the year with 418 deficit, and market leader MTN finished as the biggest net loser with over 125,000 deficit on the balance sheet.
But Bob Palitz said the figures are not big enough to cause any change in the subscriber base and market positions of the any of the six networks in the country, adding that the number of ports out of a particular network is directly related to the size of that network.
The detailed report published on the website of the NCA indicate within the year, the biggest winner, Tigo had 147,709 porting in and 79,479 porting out; Vodafone had 103,243 porting in, while 59,751 ported out; Glo had 7,984 in and 425 out, while Airtel in recorded 44,742 in and 38,244 out.
Meanwhile Expresso had 304 porting in and 722 porting out; and market leader MTN had 66,320 porting in and 191,681 porting out.
But between July 2011, when MNP was launched, and May 2012, when the NCA last reported on subscriber base of all the telcos, Vodafone has added on 1,094,436, which more than what any telco added on within the period.
Airtel comes next to Vodafone with 1,087,320 subscribers added on, then MTN with 989,266 subscribers.
Tigo, which is the biggest net winner in the MNP race, was also the biggest loser in the actual subscriber base, going from 4,147,105 million subscribers in July 2011 to 3,457,427 subscribers in May 2012, a loss of 689,678 subscribers.
Expresso also recorded a loss of 23,620 subscribers over the period from July 2011 to May 2012.
Meanwhile, the MNP report indicate that during the year, as low as between seven and eight minutes porting speeds was achieved, but the average porting time for the whole year came to about two hours.
The Director-General of the NCA, Paarock VanPercy said the milestones achieved within one year of MNP, are worth celebrating because through the collaboration of the NCA, the telcos and Porting Access, managers of the porting process, Ghana has chalked a feat that no country had chalked with MNP anywhere in the world.
The NCA Boss said “we at the NCA are very pleased with the feat that we and our collaborators have been able to chalk with MNP in just one year because while some developed countries are struggling to do a single porting within two to five days we have been able to reach an average of two hours.”
He said there were teething problems initially, due to consumers misunderstanding of the process and occasional operator network failures, but the robustness of the MNP system in Ghana has helped to surmount those problems over time.
Mr. VanPercy reminded Ghanaians that the number of ports recorded may not be significant, compared to the number of mobile connections in country, but the importance of MNP is the power of choice it gives to subscribers, and how it drives improved quality of service and customer care by telcos.
Minister of Communication, Haruna Iddrisu noted that initially, some telcos wrote off MNP as a system not worth the effort and investment because experiences from other countries indicate not many people port, but the success of Ghana’s MNP process vindicates government policy decision in favor of MNP.
The Minister said MNP has served as a tool for social engineering and caused telcos to introduce more relevant products and services, and reduce tariffs considerably.
Director of Regulatory Administration at the NCA, Joshua Peprah said beyond the success of MNP, some challenges such as telco agents using deception to lure people to port to their networks, still linger on.
He said the NCA has discovered that registration agents of some telcos go round telling people some networks have merged so if one ports from one to the other, they can still get service from both networks.
Mr. Peprah said some also mistake prefixing for porting, saying that some agents register new SIM cards for people with just the last seven digits of their phone number prefixed with the network code of another telco and erroneously pass that as porting.
He said porting means moving one’s entire number including the network code or prefix to another network.
Mr. Peprah warned that agents who use deception to lure customers to port would face the law when caught, adding that the NCA is also coming out with clear sanctions for telcos who fail to check their agents from deceiving the public.