Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig told MyBroadband that around 6,000 people port to Cell C every week, and that it is a large net receiver of subscribers through mobile number portability (porting).
However, this number could be much higher, the operator said. Knott-Craig said that porting should be a very quick and simple process, and should not take more than an hour.
In South Africa porting from one mobile operator to another can take a day or longer. This, said Knott-Craig, is a direct consequence of poor regulation.
The Cell C CEO said that effective regulation will not only speed up the porting process, but also remove obstacles which the large operators implement to make porting difficult to consumers.
Latest porting numbers
MyBroadband has received reliable information about South Africa’s porting numbers for the first quarter of 2013, which showed that Cell C was the biggest net gainer through porting.
According to the information received, Cell C gained just over 15,000 subscribers over the last three months.
In comparison, Telkom (8ta) gained 800 new users while Vodacom lost 5,000 subscribers and MTN lost 11,000 users.
March was a particularly strong month for Cell C where it gained 24,000 new subscribers and lost 2,800 – exactly the ratio of 8.6 to 1 which Knott-Craig was referring to.
Drop in the ocean
However, when looking at the overall cellular landscape, the numbers associated with porting a near-negligible.
Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman said that it is important to look at the scale of porting in context.
“The impact of porting is so small that it can only be measured at the level of hundredths of one percent of our customer base, and that’s in aggregate so far this year,” Boorman said.
MTN and Telkom Mobile were asked about their porting statistics, but the operators did not provide any feedback by the time of publication.