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Kenyans to enjoy number portability

NAIROBI, Kenya July 1- Kenyans will by end of this year be able to retain their phone number whenever they decide to switch operators.

This follows the licensing of M/s Porting Access Kenya Limited to set up the infrastructure for mobile number portability.

The new framework will connect the country’s four mobile operators allowing for seamless change between service providers, without fear of losing contact details while maintaining the same mobile number.

Speaking while awarding the license, CCK Director General Charles Njoroge said number portability presents the final stage in competition in the mobile industry ultimately leading to stability in tariffs.

“Once in place we expect that the prices will begin leveling down. More or less prices cease being the ultimate competitive instrument,” Mr Njoroge said adding operators will now focus more on value added services to attract new customers.

Mr Njoroge expects the roll out of number portability to significantly enhance competition and consumer convenience by providing options to end users.

M/s Porting Access Kenya Limited was awarded the license after beating seven other contenders during the bidding process with a winning bid of Sh199.80 every time a subscriber ports.

M/s Porting is however expected to charge Sh173 for each port once the system is in place for the first year.

The regulator is currently engaging in consultative discussions with mobile service providers to work out a mechanism of how the service will be structured.

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Industry analysts argue number portability would highly benefit new market entrants such as Yu and Telkom Kenya who have found it difficult to get a share of Safaricom’s (first entrant into the market) position despite offering ‘attractive’ prices.

They have indicated that a shift in competition dynamics by the regulator would make it easier for consumers to move across networks and choose tariffs that best suite them.

Of the country’s 20 million subscribers, Safaricom enjoys a lions share of  subscribers controlling 78 percent, Zain Kenya 17 percent, Orange 4 percent and  Yu only 1 percent.

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