Slow number porting in South Africa

Feb 12, 2015

Some of South Africa’s telecommunications networks have explained why porting a number from one operator to another sometimes takes a long time.

Operators were asked about delays in number porting after users and industry insiders complained that the process was slower on some networks than it was on others. Number porting is the process of moving your mobile or fixed-line phone number from one network to another, letting you keep your number even though you might change telecoms providers.


Mobile number porting

Vodacom said any delays would be due to outstanding amounts still owed, lines that are still within its contract term, or incorrect information being submitted to authorise the port.

“Depending on the package type and whether the line is still within term, the port could either be approved or declined,” said Vodacom. The biggest cause of delays was customers supplying incorrect authentication information, said Vodacom.

“To avoid delay, customers wishing to port should bring along a copy of their invoice/statement to ensure that the information is captured as reflected on these documents.” It added that subscribers should also notify their existing service provider they intend to port in an efforts to clear up any account issues which could cause delays.


MTN South Africa’s chief customer experience officer Eddie Moyce said each case was unique, and that there are no general causes for delays which are universally applicable.“It takes approximately 8 to 12 hours to port to the MTN network,” said Moyce. Corporate customers take longer to port as the donor network has 16 hours to respond and authorise the transfer.

It is in this authorisation step that most delays are caused, MTN said, as it has to wait on the donor network. “If the current porting rules are adhered to then the delays should be minimised.”

Once the originating network authorises the transfer, actual activation occurs daily during “network synchronisation time” between 19:30 – 22:00, except on Sundays and public holidays.


Fixed number porting

Porting a number between fixed networks such as Neotel and Telkom is a different animal, with Neotal explaining that porting a single number can take about two days.

To port a whole number range can take up to 10 working days. Ports are managed in two phases, Neotel explained: acceptance, followed by the technical port.

Some networks port immediately after they receive acceptance, while others can take another 5 days to schedule the technical personnel to perform the port, Neotel said. Asked whether anything can be done to reduce delays, Neotel said that the internal processes at other operators between acceptance and technical porting could be streamlined.

Optimising the time for technical porting would also be helpful, Neotel said.



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