Cell C drops legal action against new number porting rules in South Africa

Cell C has withdrawn its legal challenge of new number portability regulations published by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), MyBroadband has learned.

This follows speculation in the industry that Cell C and ICASA settled the litigation. However, the mobile operator and regulator have confirmed that there was no settlement — Cell C dropped the case.

“In 2019, Cell C launched an application in the High Court for the review and setting aside of ICASA’s decision to promulgate the Number Portability Regulations 2018,” the network operator told MyBroadband.

“Given Cell C’s business model at the time, Cell C were particularly vulnerable to the regulations and in the circumstances, the challenge was reasonable.”

Number porting is the process that allows you to transfer your existing phone number between different networks and telephone service providers.

While the new regulations would allow the porting of 0800, 087, and other non-geographic numbers, Cell C took issue with another aspect of ICASA’s new rules.

At the start of 2020, Cell C argued that ICASA would make it needlessly difficult for cellular subscribers to port their numbers.

Cell C said at the time that there were two reasons the new regulations would be bad for consumers:

  1. They will give extra powers to the incumbent operator, allowing it to persuade the porting customer not to leave by introducing an additional step to the process called Win-back.
  2. Under the new regulations, porting will change to become an incumbent network-led process. This means the customer’s current network must initiate the port. Previously the receiving network would initiate the port.

Cell C drops the case

Cell C said there were a few factors that contributed to its change of heart, chiefly that it no longer feels as threatened by the regulations.

“Since Cell C has embarked on its turnaround strategy and revised its business model, Cell C finds itself no longer as vulnerable to the regulations,” the cellular provider stated.

“This in mind, Cell C has elected to adopt a more collaborative approach with its regulator, and to formally withdraw the court application.”

Cell C said it will instead look to amicably engage ICASA and other network operators to resolve matters that it feels are in the best interest of the industry, whether they be in respect of number portability or other industry matters.

ICASA told MyBroadband that Cell C withdrew the case in late 2020.

“The withdrawal therefore paved the way for the full implementation of the Number Portability Regulations. The Authority is currently reviewing the Ordering System Specification to allow for the smooth implementation of the regulations.”

Now read: What you should do when fraudsters are trying to port your number

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Cell C drops legal action against new number porting rules in South Africa