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NCC approves harmonised short codes, sets deadline for implementation

*The Nigerian Communications Commission discloses the Harmonised Short Codes initiative is ‘essentially to make life much easier for telecoms consumers’, as the Commission sets May 17, 2023, as deadline for all mobile network providers to fully migrate from diverse short codes to HSCs in the telecoms ecosystem

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to commence the implementation of approved Harmonised Short Codes (HSCs) for providing certain services to telecoms consumers in the West African country.

READ: Nigerian Network Operators Activate Harmonised Shortcodes For Telecoms Consumers

Mr. Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Monday, March 13, 2023, stated the Commission, in line with its consumer-centric approach to telecoms regulation, 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 in Nigeria.

The NCC noted the use of harmonised short codes is aimed at achieving uniformity in common short codes across networks.

Muoka also said: “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.”

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

Approved common short codes

The NCC Director of Public Affairs further states under the new harmonised short codes regime, the telecoms sector regulator had approved 13 common short codes.

According to the regulatory Commission, these include the following codes: 300 to be used as the harmonised code for Call Centre/Help Desk on all mobile networks; 301 for voice Mail Deposit; and 302 for Voice Mail Retrieval.

Others are 303 for Borrow Services; 305 for STOP Service; 310 for Check Balance, and 311 for Credit Recharge.

Besides, the Commission the common code for Data Plan across networks is now 312.

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In accordance with the new direction, the regulator stated 321 is for Share Services, while 323 is for Data Plan Balance.

The statement further said: “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 Commission as well noted both the old and new harmonised short codes would run concurrently up until May 17, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to full implementation of the new codes in Nigeria.

It also stated the NCC has provided the window between now and May 17, to enable telecoms consumers to familiarise themselves with the new codes for various services.

Initiative conforms to regulatory modernisation programme

The Commission said: “The initiative, which is in tune with NCC’s regulatory modernisation programme, is essentially to make life much easier for telecoms 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).”

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The telecoms regulator added the new policy would provide an opportunity for licensees in the Value-Added Services (VAS) segment of the telecoms sector to use freed-up/old codes for other services, aside from enhancing cohesive regulatory framework in keeping with world-class practices in the country.

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