The long wait is finally over! Get ready to port your 087 VoIP and non-geographic numbers such as SmartAccess 086 and FreeCall 0800 numbers as of 07 March 2022.
In a General Notice issued by the local regulator, ICASA on the 15th of December 2021, ICASA Chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng proclaimed that the Number Portability Regulations in Government Gazette No. 41949 dated 01 October 2018 will come into effect on 07 March 2022.
What this now means is that non-geographic 087, 0800 and 086 numbers that were previously not allowed to be ported between providers has been lifted, and will now be possible when the regulation comes into effect.
This is a huge milestone for the industry that has been 16 years in the making.
Voice over IP (VoIP) has changed the game for business communications and has largely been responsible for the decline of around 70% of copper fixed lines (3.4m lines) since its peak of 5.4m lines in the year 2000.
However, even with the success of VoIP as a technology and the welcomed competition it brought to the market, the stranglehold remained for business using non-geographic numbers such as 0800, 0860 and 0861 – mostly used by high-volume call centres and distributed businesses, whose only option to move to a VoIP service provider would be if they were willing to accept additional forwarding or transit costs for each call that they receive.
This also meant that these businesses were unable to realise the full benefits that VoIP delivers to businesses, such as advanced fail-over (disaster recovery) and reduced infrastructure and operational costs.
On the other side, those businesses that jumped to VoIP (mostly as part of a new PBX/Hosted PBX phone system project) and embraced new 087 numbers allocated by their chosen VoIP provider found themselves stuck in the same position, in that those same restrictions meant that they would be locked into using the VoIP provider who sold them the service.
But now all of this is going to change… and we all know that it is a very different ballgame when customers have a choice as to whether to stay with you as their provider.
Yes, expect some conditions for non-geographic number porting, but, this new-found freedom for businesses will certainly force telecoms providers to up their game, lift their standards, and drive new initiatives to make sure that their customers feel cared for, are clear on the value they get from their supplier, and finally, that they experience the very best customer service. Basically, it will now be exactly how it should be.
Cheers to this market revival – we’re in for a cracker 2022.
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