Dar es Salaam sets new 2013 date for MNP

23 Nov 2012

The Tanzanian government plans to introduce mobile number portability (MNP) in 2013 according to a spokesman for the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), John Nkoma. The director told local newspaper Sabahi that the change would be beneficial to end users, meaning they will ‘no longer be held hostage’ by service providers, and will be able to choose a better deal from a rival cellco. ‘Losing the number was a major obstacle to switching networks for a number of customers,’ Nkoma said. MNP was originally due to be rolled out this month, he added, but said that the incumbent cellcos requested a three-month delay to allow them to upgrade their infrastructure to cater for the change. The TCRA hopes the new regime will increase competition among local mobile service providers, ultimately improving the quality of service (QoS) levels and reducing costs as cellcos are forced to react with their tariff plans in order to hang on to customers. Further, the TCRA says that interconnection fees between mobile carriers have also changed, and although it has set a ceiling level, operators are able to charge less. Currently, many Tanzanians own multiple SIMs from different service providers, and restrict their calls with them only to numbers on the same network. Nkoma hopes this will change in future due to changes in the way interconnection fees are levied, but some cellcos are concerned it may result in a drop in handset sales, while others argue it will stimulate demand for pricier high-end smartphones.