Kudakwashe Pembere Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT is currently engaging stakeholders on the implementation of number portability by all mobile network operators.
Number portability ensures that mobile subscribers keep their phone numbers when they move from one network to another.
Speaking on the sidelines of the relaunch of NetOne’s one wallet mobile money service last week, Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services permanent secretary Engineer Sam Kundishora said that number portability was something that Government was actively pursuing.
“We are worried over people carrying three mobile or more mobile phones with them. Even managing these phones is not easy.
“We are holding consultations on this issue since there is a technology component that is required to operationalise it which means we have to invest in the infrastructure needed to achieve this,” he said.
According to a notice issued by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe recently all mobile network operators are expected to implement number portability next year.
Potraz says it regards number portability as an important regulatory tool to widen subscriber choice and promote service-based competition.
“The inability of subscribers to retain their respective mobile telephone numbers when they change service providers presents an obstacle to competition and is an inconvenience to the customers,” reads part of the notice.
According to Potraz, the notice represents the first step in moving towards number portability in Zimbabwe.
Input from the operators on the technical considerations to implement portability, the document says, will be taken into account when the regulator comes up with the number portability framework and regulations.
Potraz said that it expects operators to include number portability in their respective plans for 2014. Subscribers and consumer organisations in Zimbabwe have been lobbying Potraz to introduce number portability for a while now.
They argued that number portability will enable them to vote with their wallets when an operator is providing poor service.
According to the statistics released by Potraz earlier this year, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has eight million subscribers, Telecel 2,4 million, and NetOne 2,1 million.
Number portability is expected to benefit the smaller operators in the market who are looking to attract subscribers away from the dominant ones.