South African call centres can soon move 0800-numbers away from Telkom

South Africa’s Independent Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) says the country’s telecoms sector is off to a promising start in 2022 with the finalisation of a complete number portability framework.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) published the framework on 15 December and announced a commencement date of 7 March 2022.

From this date, local businesses, NGOs and call centres can change to a different service provider without changing their national numbers.

Before Icasa’s announcement, it remained impossible to port non-geographic numbers used by local businesses, non-profit organisations and consumers for toll-free, shared-cost, premium rate and Voice over Internet Protocol — numbers starting with 0800, 0860, 0861, 0862 and 087.

Ispa said this inexplicable delay has now been dealt with, and the Number Portability Company and telecoms industry stand ready to port non-geographic numbers from March.

Mobile and geographic number portability has been possible for years. According to Ispa, a million geographic numbers and eight million mobile numbers have been ported in South Africa.

More good news, Ispa said, is that Icasa also finalised the technical details of how number portability will work in its amendments to the Ordering System Specification.

“This welcome news also signals to business and consumers the necessity of holding off on entering into further long-term agreements with providers. This is because the full implementation of number portability will soon see greater competition in providing telecoms services when it comes to non-geographic phone numbers,” said ISPA regulatory advisor Dominic Cull.

“The next two months will be an opportunity to investigate deals and determine if you’re getting the best service and value offering from your incumbent provider,” adds Cull.

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

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South African call centres can soon move 0800-numbers away from Telkom