When Mobile Number Portability Goes Sour by @jesseoguns

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Mobile Number Portability was launched across networks in Nigeria on April 22, 2013. It had been eagerly anticipated by many and it’s was ushered in by brand war campaigns instigated by MTN and followed by the other three networks – Etisalat, Airtel and Globacom.

I first saw an advert in the newspaper where MTN was taunting Etisalat.


It was not long after that that they made Saka to port (Saka who has been the advert character of Etisalat for long was seen singing I don port o! Encouraging people to move from competing networks, especially Etisalat, to MTN).

But the taunting didn’t stop there – Airtel taunted all of them especially MTN and Etisalat taunted MTN. Here’s Airtel’s and Etisalat’s and also one of Glo’s. too.

Is there really any reason for the brand war? Folks are going to do what they are going to do anyway. Many people expressed their view that they are not going to port as they already have SIMs belonging to the four networks.

One would expect that the porting launch would send some network providers crawling back to where they came from. That never happened. Nigerians have been porting before Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was launched.

What would you say of someone who has two DUAL SIM phones and four SIM cards from the four mobile Telco providers? He is able to switch from one network to the other depending on the network provider serving him well at the time. Such people probably will never port. Not to mention those with just one phone but four SIM cards. A SIM card in Nigeria now costs almost next to nothing.

My first SIM card on the MTN network was purchased on July 14, 2004 for N7,000.00 In 2008, I got my Airtel SIM for N200.00 with N100.00 credit included. No one pays more than N200.00 naira for a SIM card these days. SIM cards are cheap and DUAL SIM phones (even smartphones) come very cheap too. I once saw a phone using four SIMs. The phone cost only N13,000.


As at the time the number portability came in full swing in Nigeria, I had made my MTN line redundant. Data and call rates weren’t soothing to me. Plus epileptic data service from MTN. I was happy with my Airtel line. For a month, Airtel service started to mess up. I thought this would be a good time to experiment with porting and share a tale. So, I did.

My porting adventure started on the 30th of April and took 8 days back and forth before I was finally ported from Airtel to Etisalat.

Please note that on Airtel, the Internet data and calls were very cheap. I had been using the Airtel 2Good plan for years.

I chose Etisalat because they have better 3G signals in the heavily concreted walls at work and in my home. Data on my Airtel is almost unusable while at work. I rarely ever get 3G. If you’ve ever tried to browse with EDGE on an iPhone, you’ll know what I mean.

So I marched down to Etisalat at The Palms to port from Airtel. The process was simple. I was required to send PORT to 3232, fill a form with my details; submit a copy of my ID card and sign. Yes it was that easy and it was free. You don’t pay to port. I also got a new MicroSIM from Etisalat for free. The lady told me it could take 6 to 48 hours. I was prepared to wait 48 hours.


48 hours turned into 72 hours. 72 hours became 8 days. In between, I visited the same store after 72 hours to complain. That was when the lady that attended to me said Airtel was responsible for the issue. Told me emphatically that Airtel wasn’t releasing people who desire to port away to them. I tweeted it and someone told me there’s a fine of N120, 000.00 for every number that a network withholds. So, I doubted Airtel was holding my number to ransom.

Something funny happened. It had also happened to Jon Gambrell that works with the AP News Channel – My number was in Limbo. My Airtel number (which wasn’t going to change in the porting process) was still working on my Airtel SIM and also working on the Etisalat SIM I got from Etisalat.

Assuming everything worked well, my existing Airtel SIM was supposed to stop working while the new Etisalat SIM will now house my ported Airtel number (Same number, different network).

Here I was with two SIMs and one number working on the two of them.


Finally, I tweeted about my ordeal; Etisalat called me and promised to resolve it. I went back to the shopping mall and insisted they fix my line or else I won’t leave. I asked that the engineer in charge should be called on the phone and not mailed. I wasn’t going to wait for another day of email protocols. No way!

They made the call and while still trying to stall me, my line started working.

Yippeee! I ported. I’m happy my line is working and I have this story to share. The story is one of the reasons I initiated the porting process. I’m however not happy that my iMessage won’t work on the Etisalat network. I’ve emailed them, but I don’t have the energy for another back and forth. It is time consuming and energy sapping.

I wondered how it went for other people and posted a question on Twitter. Here are some of there responses;




I’m sure it wasn’t this difficult to some other people. But Jon and myself had this ordeal. If you’re trying to port and you’re having similar experience, be sure your line will work. Just ensure you ask them to fix it and not throw your SIM away like a frustrated customer did at the store.

There were people who were ported in less than two hours. For some it took 6 hours, 12 hours, two days and so on. It took Jon 10 days to resolve the issue, took me 8 days. A guy tweeted at me and told me it has been two weeks and his porting isn’t completed yet. Sad.

Anyway, I couldn’t have thrown away or destroyed my SIM after the near disaster of the porting stunt I pulled. The number is known by most friends and is on my email signature & business cards.

Porting was such a headache to me. How did your own porting experience go?



In pursuit of useless knowledge, spotting patterns & connecting the dots at the intersection. | Gadget Freak

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