Cellphone number porting ban in South Africa – Mobile networks respond

Mobile subscribers are not able to move their cellphone number from one network to another network while the national state of disaster remains in place in South Africa.

As recently reported by MyBroadband, the Department of Communications gazetted regulations on 26 March – before the start of the coronavirus lockdown – which prohibit the porting of mobile numbers between networks.

The regulation also included a ban on price increases, and reads as follows:

Prohibition on price increment and mobile number portability.

All licensed entities must not effect any price increases and not perform mobile number portability for duration of the COVID-19 national disaster.

With the national lockdown now extended under level 4 regulations, we spoke to local mobile network operators about what this means for number porting.

Operators respond

South Africa’s major mobile operators confirmed to MyBroadband that the regulation around number portability has remained unchanged under level 4 lockdown restrictions.

A Vodacom spokesperson said the operator expected the regulation to apply for the duration of the lockdown period.

“In line with government’s notice gazetted regarding the National Disaster Management Act, porting of numbers is currently strictly prohibited. This means customers cannot port in or out of any network during this lockdown period,” the spokesperson said.

MTN said it was awaiting further updates and instructions from the department as to when this regulation will be amended. It did not elaborate on the impact of the regulation on its services.

Cell C said it was actively engaging with the relevant regulatory authorities and the department to obtain guidance on when porting can resume.

The operator said there was a limited number of queries from customers who wanted to port during level 5 of the lockdown.

“We anticipate queries will increase from level 4 onwards,” Cell C stated.

Telkom said it was assessing the regulations and directions related to mobile number portability. It claimed that before the prohibition was introduced, it was a net beneficiary of mobile number portability.

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Cellphone number porting ban in South Africa – Mobile networks respond