Monday, 28 July 2014

The Effect Of "Mobile Number Portability" On Telecom Services & Usage In Nigeria

By David Adetula

People are the quintessential elements in all technology…Once we  recognize  the inescapable human nexus of all technology, our attitude towards the reliability problem is fundamentally  changed.{1} In this light, the effect of mobile number portability on  telecom services and usage in Nigeria cannot be critically assessed without the careful study of the responses of the people of the public who are the direct consumers of this innovation.

What is Mobile Number Portability? Mobile Number Portability is a service that enables you to keep your mobile phone number when changing from one mobile service provider to another. So, if you switch between service providers, you do not have to go through the trouble of informing all your friends, family, colleagues and other contacts because your number stays the same.{2}

Though the Mobile Number Portability service has been in existence in many countries of the world for some years now, yet, its introduction in Nigeria has been heralded by many as a giant step forward to giving our telecommunications industry the expected development. The effect of Mobile Number Portability on telecom services and its usage in Nigeria is undoubtedly noticeable among the various stakeholders of this project particularly the general public that embraces this new service. So also, the telecom services providers involved in it. The joy of a competitive market for the telecom services providers is definitely the first to reckon with on the part of the consumers. Competition in what sense? ‘Shallow’ telecom companies will now have to improve in the quality of their service delivery in order to stand a chance in the telecommunications industry.

The consumers in this market, that is the general public now have the option to swap to any network they deem fit as good for them. It is expected of any rational patronizer of these telecom companies to have a particular evaluation scheme  in order to rate their services. Hence, the one with the highest rating gets the nod of usage by the consumer. What am I talking here? Now that these companies saddled with the responsibility of providing telecom services at a charge now understand that users have been given a more flexible platform to select without excruciating processes, the best service provider unlike before, this definitely tickles them to rise up to completion.. To stay afloat, an improved quality of service delivery to the customers in the market is no longer negotiable.

In same vein, a fair leveled playing ground is indirectly created for all telecommunications companies in Nigeria with the Mobile Number Portability service introduction. Some companies with good quality of service delivery that have overtime been overshadowed by the popular and old companies in the industry due to the financial base they have built over the years of their existence now have a very good chance to prove their worth to the public since the flexibility to swap networks without losing their phone number is wonderful! This in a way encourages business minded individuals and moguls who wished to come into the system but have been discouraged by the fear of not meeting up with the existing ones in a great way.

Another effect this service has brought is the drastic reduction in health hazard. Before now, many people purchase more than one mobile phone to contain more than a line in order to avoid the unpredictable ‘drama’ being played by the services providers at most times. At least, they were sure one will be fair when the other misbehaves. This use of multiple mobile phones unknowingly has its own effect both health-wisely and psychologically on the users which is definitely a bad one.

Although the claims that the exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless phones cause cancer is unverified, yet, there are confirmed reports of other health hazard from it. This include changes in brain activity, reaction time and sleep patterns.{3}  These are actually minor effects but their multiplicity with the use of multiple mobile phones is definitely not a healthy one. With Mobile Number Portability scheme now, the problem is been curtailed. Simultaneously, the standard of living of this service embracers have also topped up. The money previously expended on purchasing multiple mobile phones can now be channeled to other meaningful investments. Thanks to this service introduction!

The usage of this service in Nigeria is yet to reach the expected level owning to some statistical reasons. From a quick survey I took time to study in an online community, it showed what I concluded to be a high level of ignorance about the service on the part of the public.{4}  Also, there are real  claims by some Nigerians to why they didn’t even bother to give it a trial. Among those claims is the 90-day restriction to a network after porting before one can leave for another if not satisfied with the service. “If I can retrieve my lost SIM card online without the need to visit a customer care office, why cannot I port my line at the convenience of my domain?” This and many other unanswered questions trail this service.

However, this service has recorded huge success in many nations where it is been used. So, I do not see an exception to that possibility in Nigeria ONLY if the raised concerns are promptly and adequately addressed. More publicity about this service should also be engaged by necessary parties to properly sensitize the general public on areas that are grey to them. With that, one can be so sure that this service has come to stay for good and its usage will be greater than what we have now.


1.Garrett Hardin, Skeptic, July-August 1976 (S&S)
2.Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ), Mobile Number Portability by Nigerian Communications Commission
3.What Are The Health Risks Associated With Mobile Phones and Their Base Stations
by World Health Organization, Online Q&A,20 September, 2013
4.What You Need To Know About Mobile Number Portability by Awodman

The writer of this article, David Adetula is a 300L student of Obafemi Awolowo University. You can reach David through his e-mail:

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