It is a regulation that has been 16 years in the making, and hampered by legal action from mobile operator Cell C, who took exception to elements of the regulation. However, in early 2021, the legal action was dropped and ICASA moved forward with proclaiming the Number Portability Regulation, which will come into effect on 7 March 2022.
The legislation enables businesses to move their non-geographic telephone numbers (0800; 0860; 0861; 0862 and 087), much the same as consumers can port from one network operator to another. It also allows companies to use different service providers, without having to go through the expensive undertaking of changing their numbers.
For too long, our country has suffered from the lack of a competitive market. And whenever something happened to the incumbent network, no call centre using that infrastructure would work. The consequences were far reaching. For example, people being unable to phone a call centre to have an ambulance dispatched, or receive other urgent assistance, putting lives at risk.
And even though ICASA had given non-geographic numbers to service providers to avoid situations like this, most of the call revenue sat with Telkom.
For the first time in years, customers that have non-geographic numbers core to their day-to-day business will have the choice to move away from Telkom, and no longer feel the impact of large scale network outages.
Companies who require more innovative call centre solutions can look forward to engaging with service providers who are innovative, agile and built to deliver greater customisability to meet their needs. Through the proclamation of this legislation customers can look forward to benefiting from reduced prices and better service.
Service providers are ready – it is time to introduce more innovation to a market that has for too long been stuck in the Dark Ages in many respects.
Greg de Chasteauneuf, Chief Technology Officer of Saicom