Although the excitement over number portability may be waning, nonetheless, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) exchanged about 94,656 subscribers in the first half of the year.
Mobile Number Portability (MNP), which was launched in Nigeria on April 22, 2013, across all networks, is designed to offer subscribers the opportunity to port their GSM numbers from one network to another, without losing their original numbers.
The move was also meant to push the network operators to buckle up with the quality of service provided, as risked losing their market due to poor services.
The Guardian checks showed that in January, about 16,159 subscribers ported out of the networks, which rose to 19,719 in February customers moved from one network operator to another.
The number fell again in March, as according to statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), 16,835 customers ported. The figure increased in April to 21,170, and more than halved May, as 11,060 subscribers changed their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, and fell further to 9,713 in June.
Specifically, within this period, Airtel lost more of its customers, as about 29,235 subscribers left the network. This is followed by MTN, which lost 27,982 users on its network. Globacom and 9mobile formerly Etisalat lost 26,611 and 10,828 subscribers respectively to competition.
Further checks showed that the exchange of subscribers impacted on the market share of all the network operators. MTN market share fell to 37.2 per cent with 53.1 million subscribers; Globacom controls 26.1 per cent with 37.4 million subscribers.
India telecommunications giant, Airtel has 34.1 million subscribers with 23.9 per cent market share, while 9mobile, which has had a running battle over its failure to service adequately its $1.2billion syndicated loans from 13 banks, had 12.6 per cent market share and provides services for 18 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, the about 18 million subscribers belonging to 9mobile have expressed dissatisfaction over the down turn in the services rendered by the telecommunications since the exit of Etisalat.
They complained about their inability to put a call through and complete it; snail speed data services, and unwarranted credit deductions.
Reacting to the development, the Vice President, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, Ibrahim Dikko, said yesterday that the company was aware of the challenges and has moved to restore it.
Dikko claimed that the disruption came as a result of a network outage in one of the firm’s data centres, which resulted in service disruption.
“We are aware that subscribers may be experiencing some disruption with voice, SMS and data services due to this technical issue. Our technical teams are currently working assiduously to resolve the issue within the shortest possible time.
“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused our subscribers and we thank them for their patience and understanding,” he stated.
Recall that over 4,000 subscribers ported within the first four days of its launch of MNP in Nigeria, while 7,164 subscribers ported to different networks within one month. However, the excitement from subscribers later reduced in the subsequent months, which many attributed to the strings attached to MNP by the NCC as well as general poor services among the operators.
NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, had said the benefits of porting far outweighed the shortcomings, as subscribers will no longer need to worry trying to memorise new numbers, making changes on their business cards, letter heads, and billboard advertisements, among others whenever they needed to change their service providers.
Ojobo admitted that MNP may not actually solve the perennial challenges confronting quality of service in Nigeria, he however urged subscribers to explore the process and change their network operators if they are not satisfied with the services rendered.
Meanwhile, the NCC is worried about the declining number of active subscribers in the country, following the loss of about 10 million active lines.
NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management (ECSM), Sunday Dare, attributed this to a number of reasons, which are not unconnected with the current economic recession.