NCC announces 13 unified short codes for basic Telecom Services. You must have noticed that when you try to check account balance on your MTN line using the old USSD code (*556#) but to no avail. Well, this occurs as a result of NCC regulating the framework of Nigerian Telecom sector.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has instructed mobile network operators (MNOs) to commence the deployment of approved unified short codes. These codes will serve to offer specific services to telecommunications consumers in Nigeria.
To ensure a seamless transition without rushing the process, the Commission (NCC) has set a deadline of May 17, 2023, for all mobile networks to complete the migration from their current diverse short codes to the new unified short codes also know as Harmonized short codes.
Throughout the transition period until May 17, 2023, both the old and new harmonized short codes will be in simultaneous operation. This provides sufficient time for telecom consumers to become acquainted with the new codes for different services.
Why Implement Harmonised Short codes?
There are two main reasons why NCC strike so hard to implement the harmonized short codes, namely:
- Improve telecommunications experience for consumers
- Address insufficient Availability of Short codes
Improve telecommunications experience for consumers: Before the implementation of Harmonised Short Codes), individual mobile Network operators (MNOs) had their unique short codes. However, by mandating the adoption of unified short codes, NCC aims to simplify and improve the telecommunications experience for consumers in Nigeria, aligning with their consumer-centric regulatory approach.
As a result, regardless of the network used by consumers, the same short code can be utilized to check their airtime balance or perform other identical functions across all mobile networks in Nigeria.
Address insufficient Availability of Short codes: Furthermore, the National Communications Commission (NCC) acknowledges the necessity of addressing various issues, such as the limited availability of short codes and indiscriminate usage of short codes, among other concerns.
As a result, the adoption of unified short codes became necessary to enhance the accessibility of common services across all networks. The implementation of harmonized short codes seeks to establish uniformity in the use of common short codes across all networks.
Adverse Effect of NCC Harmonised Short Codes
In a survey conducted by Molcom in 2018, feedback was gathered concerning the negative effects of Harmonized Short Codes on the businesses of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
These effects included heightened marketing expenses, encompassing costs associated with customer education and awareness, as well as rebranding initiatives. Moreover, potential service interruptions and network instability arising from harmonization were noted, along with the requirement for significant network equipment reconfiguration. Concerns also extended to the potential loss of customers.
Nonetheless, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) provided reassurance that the risks associated with these challenges would be mitigated, as long as each operator possesses its own infrastructure to carry out the required modifications.
List of NCC Approved Unified Short Codes
In accordance with the newly implemented harmonized short codes system, the Commission has approved a total of 13 common short codes. These codes are as follows:
|MNOs Services||Unified Short codes|
|Account Balance Check||*310#|
|Buy Data Plan||*312#|
|Check Data Balance||*323#|
|Stop (VAS) Services||*305#|
|Voice Mail deposit||301|
|Voice Mail Retrieval||302|
Though, the National body (NCC) urged Telcos giving them till 17-may-2023 to implement the unified short codes, not all Mobile Network Operators has been able to fully implement these short codes as instructed. e.g Globacom, among others. As a result, users can still use old USSD codes during the delay period while they learn to get aquatinted with the new codes.
Unified short codes facilitate convenient access to essential services such as customer support, account management, and information services. They eliminate the need to remember multiple, network-specific codes, making it easier for users to interact with service providers across different platforms.
In Overall, unified short codes as the name implies bring uniformity, efficiency, and convenience to the world of telecommunication in Nigeria.They simplify access to services, improve emergency response, enhance customer experiences, and promote global connectivity. By embracing harmonized short codes, we can create a more interconnected and seamless communication landscape that benefits individuals, businesses, and societies as a whole.