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Business News of Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Source: GNA

CPA asks government to expedite action on mobile phone portability service

Accra, April 7, GNA - A number of surveys conducted by the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), have shown that consumers of telecommunications services are more satisfied with their telephone numbers and would like to retain them while switching to other operators.

This is causing uncertainty for mobile phone subscribers in deciding on the operator who is the most suitable in providing services. A press release issued by Mr Kofi Kapito, Chief Executive Officer of CPA and Nana Prempeh Aduhene, Head of Programme and Research in Accra on Tuesday, said the headache of switching from one network to the other to satisfy subscribers' quest for quality service has been resolved since the introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in many countries across the world including the European Union.

With the MNP service, subscribers can choose a new service provider while retaining their previous number to receive services. This facility, which is now available for both fixed and mobile phone numbers has improved the attractiveness of the market and increased the penetration level of the product in the countries where they are in practice.

MNP comes in three different approaches: change of the consumer's physical location, change of the type of service required and change of the service provider (operator). But the latter is the main approach in offering this service. The statement said the ability to keep one's mobile phone number when moving to a new provider, has been a lot of headache to mobile phone subscribers in the country whiles a technology exist to make it possible. The practice is already in use in 60 countries including Europe, India , Sweden, Denmark, Greece, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Malta and the USA. "The Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrissu, even before he became a Minister had been the number one advocate of the introduction of Mobile Number Portability. He had always stood for it even as a ranking member on Communications. This position is supported by numerous industry players and nearly all subscribers in the country. "The problem, however, is that the Ministry of Communications is looking at introducing this service in Ghana in June 2012," the statement said. It said although the announcement created a lot of excitement among a great number of subscribers in the country, questions have started coming up as to why the ministry would like to wait for that long before introducing the concept in Ghana?

" Why should Ghanaians be made to tag on to service providers who in their estimation are not giving them the kind of service they require? It might not necessarily be that they were giving them poor service, but giving them a freedom of choice to be where they wanted to be? "Upon the directive by the minister that communication companies register all sim card subscribers by the end of 2011, it will be prudent to introduce the Mobile Number Portability to coincide with the registration on the sim cards using the same data base.

The statement said the advantages to consumers include keeping one's number when switching service provider, no added cost to stationary and increased value through reduced tariffs.

"The number no longer provides information on service provider, resulting in convergence of on-net and off-net tariffs.

"With the introduction of the MNP service providers who do not perform to the satisfaction of their clients might lose their subscription and would compel them to perform better.

" The CPA also believes this will enhance competition that will eventually lead to the overall benefit of the consumer in terms of cost and quality services from these service providers.

"We are therefore calling on the communications Minister and the NCA (National Communications Authority) who are the regulators of the service providers to enforce them to introduce the Mobile number portability now for the benefits of the Ghanaian consumer," the statement added.

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