A good eight years after the idea was first mooted, Botswana’s attempt to introduce mobile number portability (MNP), which allows customers to change their network provider while retaining their original number, has ground to a halt.
It was in early 2019 that the then transport and communications minister, Dorcas Makgato, announced that mobile number portability would happen that year. It was first considered in 2012.
Now the present-day holder of the office, Thulaganyo Segokgo, has announced that plans to implement MNP have been abandoned after more than six years of preparation.
An operator network readiness assessment study has apparently shown that the plan is not feasible.
According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, the minister said operators were being encouraged to investigate other alternatives to MNP, such as promoting over-the-top (OTT) services and other ‘disruptive technologies’.
The smallest of the country’s three operators, BTC Mobile, may be the biggest loser after this decision. It had apparently hoped to increase its 16 percent share of the market if MNP made it easier for subscribers to rivals Mascom and Orange to change operators.
The road to MNP is clearly not a straightforward one. As we reported in March, MNP has been under consideration in Sri Lanka since 2008 and is finally expected to be introduced in October this year.
And in Uruguay there has been a long-delayed decision to appoint an administrator to develop and enact MNP. We reported in February that Uruguay’s Regulatory Unit of Communications Services (URSEC) had asked stakeholders to help with the selection process.