About 36.6 million telephone lines have been withdrawn from some telecommunications operators from the National Numbering Plan (NNP) with effect from March 20, 2018.
A telephone numbering plan is a type of scheme used in telecommunication to assign telephone numbers to subscriber telephones or other telephony endpoints. Telephone numbers are the addresses of participants in a telephone network, reachable by a system of destination code routing.
The Numbering Plan is an addressing mechanism for communication networks, which enables routing of traffic to designated networks. NNP is sometimes used to identify different types of services.
The lines withdrawn, The Guardian gathered belonged to about 48 operators. While some are still in operation, large numbers of them have down tools as a result of harsh economic challenges and supposed mis-management of their operations in the country.
Some of these operators, according to a document on NNP from NCC, operated with national and states licences. The operators include Alpha Wireless Limited; Disc Communications; Mobitel; Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited; Starcomms; Zoom Mobile; Odu’a Telecoms Limited; Rainbownet; Gicell Wireless Limited; Broadband Technology Limited; NITEL; Multilinks; BIG Communications Limited; Bell and Bell Telecoms, among others.
States and cities were some of these telephone lines were withdrawn from include Lagos, Abuja, Enugu; Gombe; Oyo; Port Harcourt; Oshogbo, Ile-Ife; Warri; Sapele;Ijebu-Ode; Ado-Ekiti; Ilorin; Auchi; Lokoja; Asaba; Jos; Ibadan, Akure; Calabar, Umuahia, among others.
The ranges of these numbers include 770,000; 550000; 710000; 499000; 780000; 8770000; 220,000; 4,100,000; 7070000000, among others.
The area codes of these numbers include 053; 073, 044; 01; 084; 09; 052; 038, and others.
A top official of the NCC, who spoke with The Guardian on the condition of anonymity, said the numbers withdrawn were numbers, which have been in existence since 2001. Some of the operators got the set of lines from the then, monopoly operator, Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
He revealed that after the collapse of NITEL, the regulatory role fell on NCC. He said some of the lines have become dormant and not put to use, while some operators failed to renew their licenses.
According to him, the NNP process was to orderly arrange the numbers for proper management, especially at this period of increasing security breaches through some unidentified numbers.
Earlier in a statement on its website, NCC claimed to have developed the NNP to set up uniform numbering scheme for easy calls to subscribers and operators.
The NNP provides a uniform dialing procedure for local, national long distance, international calls and calls to emergency, special services, independent of where the call was originating from in the country.
According to the NCC, other numbering information includes, terminologies, dialing procedure, area codes by zone and primary centre and mobile telephony number allocation.
Some of the NNP terminologies are numbering area, trunk prefix, trunk code, directory number and international prefix, among others. “Numbering area is part of the country to which a trunk code has been allocated and within that area only the directory numbers are dialed.
“Trunk prefix is the digit or a combination of digits to be dialed by a calling subscriber so as to obtain access to a trunk code and the numbering area.”
It explained that the international number consists of the country code of the required country followed by the national number of the called subscriber. NCC said that it was charged with development of the NNP for the Nigerian telephone networks both for fixed and wireless networks. “This is to ensure allocation of unique numbers to each subscriber connected to the network.”
The Nigerian Communications Act, Section 4 empowers NCC to develop, manage and administer a national numbering plan and electronic addresses plan and the assignment of numbers and electronic addresses there from to licensees”
The Commission, according to the act, shall, solely and exclusively be vested with control, planning, administration, management and assignment of the numbering and electronic addressing of network services and applications services.
The Country Code for Nigeria is +234 and the NNP can be categorized into five classes, which are: Geographic Numbers/Numbering Areas for Fixed Communications Services; Non-geographic Numbers for Mobile Services; Vanity and Toll-Free; Premium Numbers.
There are short codes for special services. For example 112 for emergency services.