Saturday, October 24, 2020

BOCRA resuscitate mobile number portability debate

A decision on whether to introduce the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the local market is yet to be taken, telecommunications regulator ÔÇô the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has said. Mobile Number Portability will, among others, allow subscribers to change operators without losing their number. BOCRA however this week said it is working around the clock to ensure that whatever the decision taken will be timely. The regulator’s Chief Executive Martin Mokgware said as part of its routine operations, BOCRA is currently in consultation with stakeholders, including service providers, to revisit matter with a view to determining whether the market would be ready for the initiative. “BOCRA will be able to determine whether or not to introduce Mobile Number Portability once the necessary consultations have been concluded,” Mokgware stated. He revealed that in 2012 BOCRA undertook a study to investigate the possibility of introducing Mobile Number Portability in the market which revealed that the market was not ready for it at the time. BOCRA is mandated by the Communications Regulatory Authority Act, 2012 (CRA Act) to, among other things, protect and promote the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of the services in the regulated sectors. He added that it is particularly in respect of the prices charged for, and the availability, quality and variety of services and products, and where appropriate, the variety of services and products offered throughout Botswana, such as will satisfy all reasonable demands for those services and products. “Pursuant to this mandate, BOCRA periodically undertakes market studies in consultation with licensees, consumers and all other relevant stakeholders with a view to finding ways of enhancing delivery of communications services,” said Mokgware. Mascom Wireless Chief Communications and Public Relations Officer, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego said MNP is a welcome service for those subscribers who want the flexibility and convenience of retaining the same number whenever they wish to switch providers. Lebotse-Sebego further revealed that the overall recommendation was that MNP was not a viable option for the Botswana market, because the costs of implementation outweighed the benefits at the time. “It would be prudent to determine if some measures have reduced the prevalence of multi simcards as this would better inform the present benefits of introducing MNP relative to the associated costs,” she said.

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