Airtel Ghana has responded to MTN Ghana’s running advertisement on television stations in the country depicting the other five telecoms network in the country, including Airtel as having limited coverage and poor network quality.
During a presentation to educate journalists on the soon to begin Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the country in Accra Tuesday June 7, 2011, and in response to a question about how the industry players could address advertisements of that nature, Mr. Oare Ojeikere, Airtel Ghana’s Marketing Director said, “it is not true that we cover only a limited area in the country. Our customers who receive calls from all over the country know that is not true. We cover the entire country.”
He added that Airtel would not respond directly to that advertisement, “we will stick to our script,” he said.
The advertisement depicts a flashy and colourfully dressed man in a shirt made of the colours of the five other providers. The man, acting in a funny way is called GAVET, a coined acronym for the names of the other five mobile service providers, Glo, Airtel, Vodafone, Expresso and Tigo.
The advert shows GAVET trying to unsuccessfully make phone calls with phones of the other networks also in their colours; red, white, blue, green, and mauve. And then suddenly another character wearing yellow, the colour of MTN appears and tells GAVET his network covers the entire country and has better call quality.
Mr. Ojeikere argued further that Airtel is using latest technology because they entered the market not too long ago and offers cheaper call rates of 8GP to all networks.
MNP is a system that allows mobile phone subscribers to move from one network to the other and still maintain their original mobile number including the network prefix or code number.
For example, a subscriber on the MTN network with the number 0244000000 who moves to Airtel can still maintain the 0244000000. And a subscriber on the Airtel with the number 0266000000 who decides to move to MTN will still maintain the number 0266000000.
When a subscriber wants to port all he or she has to do is walk to the retail of sales point of the network he or she wants to move to carrying the handset and a valid ID card, like the drivers’ license, voters ID, passport, National Health Insurance card and National ID.
The process is then initiated and a new SIM card is given to the subscriber.
Earlier in March 2011, Mr. Joshua K. Peprah, Director, Regulatory Administration at the NCA told journalists at a meeting that MNP is “recipient network driven”. What this means, he says, is that the network that the subscriber is switching to is the one to initiate the move. “The subscriber only has to go to the recipient network, or the network he or she wants to switch to and the switch is initiated at that point.”
He said the donor network or the network provider the subscriber is switching from would only have to accept or reject with reasons.
MNP begins in Ghana July 1, 2011 and the process is expected to take effect within 24 hours. The service providers have agreed to absolve the cost and therefore, subscribers would not have to pay for porting, however, one can only port again to a different network after 30 days.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi