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Geographic number portability delayed

Independent telecom service provider Switch Telecom has expressed disappointment that ICASA has postponed the implementation of the geographic number portability process for individual customers until 26 April 2010.

Switch Telecom confirmed that it is ready for the implementation of the second phase of the geographic number portability process when it commences. Geographic number porting allows customers to switch fixed-line operators or service providers without losing their existing phone numbers.

It enables smaller operators and service providers to compete on a more equal footing with the incumbent providers since they can offer customers the ability to switch over a voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) network and retain their fixed-line numbers.

Geographic number portability became effective from the 18th May 2009 for blocks of 1000 and 10,000 numbers, meaning that large commercial customers have long enjoyed the benefits of porting.

ICASA delayed the implementation of the second phase of geographic number portability (for individual numbers) after consulting only with the incumbent operators (Telkom and Neotel) about their readiness for the process. ICASA said the delay was granted due to ‘unforeseen technical challenges’ the incumbent operators have encountered in the rollout of geographic number portability.

Said Greg Massel, managing director at Switch Telecom: “Geographic number portability doesn’t only effect Telkom and Neotel – ICASA itself has issued port codes to a number of other service providers. We’d like to remind the public that we’re ready and eager to offer them this service as soon as it’s officially implemented. Small businesses and consumers will soon be able to port their numbers as easily as large organisations already can do today.

When we are able to offer geographic number portability to all our clients – including individuals and small businesses – we expect to see many of them adapt our VOIP services even more aggressively.

“”In fact, we have many customers waiting to port, so we hope that this is the last delay in the process,”” said Massel.

With the introduction of geographic number portability, customers will have real choice about which service provider that they choose to carry their fixed-line voice traffic.

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