NCC Directs Telcos To Implement Harmonised Short Codes

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed all mobile network operators to commence implementation of approved harmonized shortcodes (HSC) in order to provide specific services to telecom customers.

NCC Directs Telcos To Implement Harmonised Short Codes  Shortcodes are numbers shorter than full numbers which can be used to address wireless short message service (SMS), multimedia messaging services (MMS), as well as voice services from mobile phones or fixed lines.

While there are numbers unique to each operator, there are also common short codes (inter-operator).

With this development, MTN, Airtel, Glo, and 9mobile users will recharge, check account balances, and other services with the same shortcodes.

The NCC’s director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka, disclosed this in a statement.

He said the commission said the new policy was in line with its consumer-centric approach to telecom regulation.

The deadline for all mobile networks to completely transition from the previously disparate shortcodes to the harmonized codes, according to the NCC, is May 17, 2023.

The commission said the use of HSC is aimed at achieving uniformity in common short codes across networks.

“This means that the code for checking airtime balance is the same across all mobile networks for the same function, irrespective of the network a consumer uses,” the statement reads.

“With the new codes, the telecom consumers using the over 226 million active mobile lines in the country, can now use the same codes to access services across the networks.”

Consequently, NCC said under the new HSC regime, 13 common short codes have been approved by the commission.

“They include the following codes: 300 to be used as the harmonized code for call center/help desk on all mobile networks; 301 for voice mail deposit; 302 for voice mail retrieval; 303 for borrow services; 305 for stop service; 310 for check balance, and 311 for credit recharge,” it said.

“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.”

The NCC added that the old and new harmonized shortcodes will run concurrently up until May 17, 2023, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to the new codes.

“The period between now and May 17, 2023, is provided by the NCC to enable telecom consumers to familiarise themselves with the new codes for various services,” the commission said.

“The initiative, which is in line with NCC’s regulatory modernization program, is essential to make life much easier for telecom consumers, as it is now easier for Nigerians to memorize 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 enhance cohesive regulatory framework in keeping with world-class practices.

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