Another hurdle to decent telecoms competition and consumer choice has fallen, with the implementation of individual geographic number portability (GNP) starting in earnest on Monday.
After almost five years, fixed-line home phone users can now switch providers, while keeping their numbers. “Geographic number portability is a tool to promote consumer choice in the market,” said Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) chairman Paris Mashile at a briefing this morning.
ICASA held the briefing to explain the details of GNP, which operators attending the meeting hailed as another leap towards greater competition in the South African telecoms market. “Individual customers and households are free to take their number with them, no matter which provider they chose,” said Mashile.
In January last year, nearly 300 hopeful telecoms providers were licensed to provide networks and services to customers. However, only a few of those actually applied for geographic numbers. Those companies that have applied are now eligible to take part in the porting process. Some of them include ECN Telecoms, Internet Solutions, Neotel, Switch Telecoms, Vox Telecoms and Telfree Telecoms, among others.
Mashile said the regulator will soon publish guidelines for consu