Number portability continues to be one of the biggest contributors to greater competition in providing voice services and must be expanded to benefit the corporate market.
That’s according to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA), presenting at public hearings into proposed amendments to ICASA’s Numbering Portability Regulations yesterday (12 March).
The draft regulations being debated allow the porting of the non-geographic 086 and 087 number ranges which are largely used by corporate customers and call centres.
“Many corporate customers have invested heavily in advertising their 086 and 087 contact centre numbers,” says Dominic Cull, representing the ISPA. “They are unhappy with the service they are receiving from their provider but are currently unable to switch to a new provider because of the inability to keep their valuable call centre number and the cost of changing marketing collateral. This has obvious negative implications for competition.”
ICASA’s move to provide a solution to these corporate 087 and 086 customers in the form of the expansion of the number portability regime, should be welcomed by consumers, he says.
“Telkom remains the dominant provider in the in-bound call centre market and its opposition to ICASA’s draft regulations should be seen as an attempt to protect its historically-entrenched position”, comments Cull. “ISPA views this as contrary to the interest of users of 086 and 087 numbers.”
The current draft regulations are the latest step in a steady journey that first saw cellular consumers being able to port their mobile numbers in 2006. Porting of fixed or landline numbers commenced in April 2016. ISPA’s members have long agitated for ICASA to expand the regime to non-geographic numbers.
“ISPA appreciates the efforts of ICASA to provide consumers of voice services with a greater choice of service provider,” Cull adds.
ISPA membership currently stands at almost 200 small, medium and large ISP (Internet Service Provider) and affiliate members, a number of whom compete directly in the provision of voice services.