With the announcement recently that geographic number portability can be done on a block porting basis, the industry is looking forward to embracing individual number portability within the next few months.
As per an announcement by ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) in May, block portability has become a reality, allowing blocks of numbers of 1 000 and 10 000 to port between the two fixed-line operators.
"We have been working tirelessly to overcome the technical and legislative hurdles in order to allow for geographic number portability," says Stefano Mattiello, chief sales and customer care officer at Neotel. "Tremendous progress has already been made in this regard with block portability becoming a reality and we will continue to drive the process toward individual porting on behalf of the consumer."
Geographic number portability is the next step in providing competitiveness in the market, as the need to keep their number will no longer prevent customers from changing service providers.
"Phase one of the process, involves porting blocks of numbers, while phase two is aimed at consumers allowing for individual porting," says Mattiello.
However, he believes the launch of individual porting will be the birth of true competition in the telecommunications market.
"The comparisons have been done which reveal significant savings for consumers on their home and business phones," says Mattiello. "The fact that people have not been able to keep their existing numbers has been a hindrance, but this will be eliminated with individual porting, therefore we will continue driving the process until this becomes a reality and our consumers have the freedom to really choose their service provider."
The regulations require that individual porting will be in place within 10 months of block porting, which was launched in May.
Mattiello explains that there is a process to be followed when porting your number.
"The customer must put the request to port in – this is then either approved or rejected by their existing service provider.
"There are a number of reasons why a request to port could be rejected, such as an account that is not in good standing, misalignment between the account number and service provided or that the number is a trigger for a smart call number.
"Currently smart call numbers cannot be ported but work is underway to address this gap and customers will eventually be able to port those numbers as well," Mattiello says.