Telecom Subscribers: Implementation of Harmonised Short Codes Will Ease Existing Burden

Emma Okonji

Telecoms subscribers across networks have stated that implementation of the harmonised short codes in the telecoms sector as directed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), will ease a lot of burden, especially the challenge of remembering codes of different network operators, when trying to effect an operation with a particular network.  

The NCC had on Monday this week, issued a directive, compelling all telecoms operators to begin implementation of the harmonised shot codes that will be used to effect same operations across networks.   

According to the NCC’s directive, all mobile network operators (MNOs) are to commence implementation of approved harmonised short codes (HSC) for providing certain services to telecom consumers in Nigeria.

The commission had already set a deadline of May 17, 2023, for all mobile networks to fully migrate from hitherto diverse short codes to the harmonised codes.

Under the new harmonised short codes, the commission has approved 13 common short codes. They include: 300 for harmonised code for Call Centre/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.

Also, the common code for Data Plan across networks is now 312, while 321 is for Share Services, and 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.

According to NCC, the old and new harmonised short codes will run concurrently up until the May 17, 2023, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to full implementation of the new codes. 

Based on NCC’s directive, telecoms operators have commenced implementation of the harmonised short codes, a development that has elicited joy among telecoms subscribers who said the directive would ease a lot of burden in trying to memorise different short codes that were hitherto unique to different operators.

President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, told THISDAY that the move by NCC to begin implementation of harmonised short codes in the telecom sector was a welcomed development that would bring a lot of ease and growth in the telecom sector.

Enumerating some of the difficulties experienced by telecoms subscribers while trying to use the different short codes, Ogunbanjo said most subscribers that have difficulties in memorising short codes, often mix up the short codes and at the end they would be frustrated because they will not get the desired result, adding that the confusion becomes compounded if the subscriber has multiple SIM cards from different telecoms operators.  

According to Ogunganjo, “An average Nigerian has at least two mobile phones with two SIM slots in each of the mobile phones, making it possible for a single subscriber to have multiple SIM cards from different telecoms operators. Now the challenge of multiple SIMs from different telecoms service providers is that the subscriber has to memorise the different short codes for different operations across different networks. Most times, the subscriber gets confused and inputs a wrong code for a particular network and will not achieve result. So the harmonisation will save the subscriber the pains and the troubles of getting to memorise all short codes from different network operators.”   

Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that the development would bring a lot of ease to the telecoms sector.

Speaking about the economic value of harmonised short codes for the telecoms industry, Adebayo said the harmonised short codes would bring a lot of ease and comfort to telecom subscribers and also ease the growth of the telecoms industry.

“Subscribers that have multiple lines from multiple operators will need to learn the multiple codes across networks, because Globacom and other service providers like MTN, Artel and 9mobile, had hitherto different short codes for different operations,” Adebayo said.

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