Home Telecoms NCC orders MNOs to implement harmonised shortcodes for telecom users in Nigeria

NCC orders MNOs to implement harmonised shortcodes for telecom users in Nigeria

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Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has ordered mobile network operators (MNOs) to start implementing authorized harmonised shortcodes (HSC) for offering specific services to telecom users in Nigeria, in keeping with its consumer-centric approach to telecoms regulation.

The Commission has already set May 17, 2023, as the ultimatum for all mobile networks to completely transition from previously disparate shortcodes to harmonized codes.

The goal of using harmonized shortcodes is to achieve uniformity among network-wide shortcodes. This implies that no matter which mobile network a user chooses, the code for checking airtime balance will always be the same across all networks for the same function.

With the new codes, telecom users can now use the same codes to access services across networks for the more than 226 million active mobile lines in the nation.

As a result, the Commission has approved 13 common short codes under the new harmonized shortcodes regime. The following codes are among them: On all mobile networks, the call centre/help desk harmonised code is 300; voice mail deposit is 301; voice mail retrieval is 302; borrow services are 303; STOP service is 305; check balance is 310; and credit reload is 311.

Also, the common code for Data Plan across networks is now 312. In line with the new direction, 321 is for Share Services, while 323 is for Data Plan Balance. The code, 996, is now for Verification of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration/NIN-SIM Linkage. The code, 2442, is retained for Do-Not-Disturb (DND) unsolicited messaging complaint management, while the common code, 3232, is also retained for Porting Services, otherwise called Mobile Number Portability.

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The old and new harmonized shortcodes will run concurrently up until 17 May 2023, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to full implementation of the new codes. The period between now and 17 May 2023 is provided by the NCC to enable telecom consumers to familiarise themselves with the new codes for various services.

The initiative, which is in line with NCC’s regulatory modernisation programme, is essential to make life much easier for telecom consumers, as it is now easier for Nigerians to memorise single codes for various services across all mobile networks they may be using, thereby improving consumer quality of experience (QoE).

In addition, the new policy will provide an opportunity for licensees in the Value-Added Services (VAS) segment of the telecoms sector to be able to use freed-up/old codes for other services, as well as promote a cohesive regulatory framework in keeping with world-class practices.

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