Mobile phone subscribers in Kenya will from today retain their mobile subscriber numbers whenever they opt to change service providers following the roll out of Mobile Number Portability services by the four mobile operators in line with regulatory requirements.
Kenya joins 62 other countries around the world where number portability has been implemented, including Egypt, and South Africa.
“The implementation of number portability is expected to deepen the level of competition in the mobile telecommunications market and enhance consumer choice”, says Communications Commission of Kenya Director-General Mr. Charles Njoroge. .
One of major factors that have been discouraging consumers and business firms from changing mobile service providers is the inconveniences of losing contacts with friends, family and business associates. For businesses, change of telephone numbers could have cost implications in regard to advertising.
These inconveniences have inhibited consumers from taking advantage of the growing competition in the telecommunications market.
Mr. Njoroge says introduction of number portability will result in improvement in the quality of service as mobile operators fight it out to retain and attract subscribers in their network.
“In the new dispensation, service providers who do not pay attention to quality and good customer service may find it hard to survive,” the Director-General added.
The introduction of Mobile Number Portability follows extensive public consultations carried out between 2004 and 2008 which showed that the market was ready for the service. Given the insights collected during the public consultation exercise, Mobile Number Portability is expected to gain significant acceptability in the market, given the one-time fee per port and relatively short port duration are considered competitive, and unlikely to hinder the uptake of the service.
Mobile number portability was initially meant to kick off last December but was deferred to allow mobile service providers more time to acquire and test their equipment. All mobile service providers signed an agreement with Porting Access Kenya committing to roll out the service as from today.
“The operators have carried out the necessary tests and we expect the services to kick off without major hitches. There might be some few teething problems at the beginning but this should be sorted out within the shortest time possible,” says CCK Director-General.
How to port
All subscribers wishing to port their numbers will be expected to fill in the Mobile Number Portability Form atthe retail shop of the mobile operator they intend to switch to and present original identification documents (e.g. I.D. card, Passport or Armed forces I.D. card) for verification. For company lines, an official letter from the organization, duly signed by the relevant authority, will be required.
Subscribers will also pay a porting fee of Kshs. 200 and will be issued with a new SIM card and will continue to use the services of their current operator until the automated porting process is complete.
Before the automatic switching process starts, subscribers are expected to save their SIM contacts on their phone or any other form, clear any balance airtime and money in mobile transfer account as well as pay up any borrowed airtime or outstanding bill.
To start the automated porting process subscribers will need to send the word PORT orHAMA to 1501 using their existing SIM card. The subscriber will then receive an SMS from PORTING bearing either of the following information: Thank you for your SMS. Your porting request is being processed (Asante kwa SMS yako. Ombi lako la kuhama linashughulikiwa); OR your porting request has failed. Please contact your new Operator(Ombi lako la kuhama halijafaulu. Tafadhali wasiliana na Opereta wako mpya).
When the automated switching process is complete, one will receive, within a few minutes (but not longer than 48 hours), an SMS from PORTING bearing either of the following information: This Account will be closed soon. Please use your SIM card from your new Operator. (Akaunti hii itafungwa karibuni tafadhali tumia SIM CARD yako mpya kutoka kwa Opereta wako mpya) OR Porting Error. Please contact your new Operator (Kuna shida na ombi lako la kuhama. Tafadhali wasiliana na Opereta wako mpya)..
The subscriber will then replace their current SIM card with the new SIM Card from the new operator and begin enjoying the services of the new mobile service provider.