MUSCAT – Rashid bin Mohammed Said Al Saidi ‘ported’ (term used for the transferring process) his Oman Mobile number to Nawras yesterday morning from a Nawras outlet in Ruwi.The significance of that should not be lost because Rashid Al Saidi became not only the first Nawras customer to do so, but, more importantly, he is the first person in Oman to sort of “have his number and keep it too”.
In the sense, he is the first-ever mobile user in Oman to be able to not only choose his mobile operator, change it to his preferred one, but also keep his number, something, which became a reality as per the nearly RO1 million Mobile Number Portability (MNP) project, as envisaged by the Royal Decree No. 30/2002, which became a reality yesterday morning.
And for Nawras, known as the Sultanate’s customer-friendly communications provider with around 440,000 customers, this is a first, not only in Oman, but also a first in the Middle East, Ross Cormack, Nawras CEO, told a packed news conference held at its main office in Al Athaiba/Azaiba yesterday, which was held an hour or so after the MNP transfer came into effect.
Also present were top Nawras officials, including Khalid Mahmood, COO, Nawras and Haitham bin Abdullah Al Kharusi, head of offer management and corporate affairs, Nawras and other key members who made the project a reality.
Nawras, officially launched its MNP campaign yesterday, entitled ‘transfer to Nawras today and keep your mobile number’. Scribes were taken down to the Nawras store where a demonstration, right from the customer making the enquiry to the exact transfer process, was made.
MNP is a new service introduced by Nawras to make it possible for mobile customers to keep their existing number when transferring to Nawras.
Renowned Omani national and international football goalkeeper, Ali Al Habsi, was chosen as the Nawras ambassador for the MNP campaign. Ali was pleased that Nawras has launched the campaign on August 26, as Ali is known for his jersey number 26!
Nawras officials listened to customers, who told their mobile numbers were important to them as part of their identity. “We took the lead and lobbied the TRA and fought hard for customers’ rights to enjoy the extra freedom of choice, which MNP brings to all mobile users in Oman. We are now launching this incredible service that allows customers to choose their operator and keep their existing number. Customers can choose right nowâ€¦they can keep their number and transfer to Nawras today,” Cormack said.
The MNP is a very important pre-requisite in a free mobile telecommunications market focused on fair competition, and the TRA in Oman has been a pioneer in overseeing the regulatory and operator developments necessary to allow this service to be introduced. Till yesterday customers were locked up with their existing mobile provider and could only change operators with considerable disruption and cost, Cormack added.
Cormack explained the steps required for customers to transfer to Nawras and keep their mobile number. The first step is for customers to contact (this is not applicable for prepaid customers) their existing operator to pay their outstanding bill. Then the customers may visit any Nawras store or selected Nawras dealer located all over the Sultanate, within 24 hours, to complete a form, which opens the process of transferring their mobile number to Nawras.
The Nawras store or the Nawras dealer representatives will help customers to fill out the customer porting-authorisation form. Customers can choose whether to transfer to Nawras Ajel (postpaid) or Nawras Mousbak (prepaid), by purchasing the corresponding welcome pack and signing the Nawras registration form.
The customers can use their new Nawras SIM card with a temporary Nawras number as soon as it is activated. Nawras takes care of the rest of the process, and within two to three days the temporary number on the customer’s new Nawras SIM card will be replaced with the customer’s original mobile number.
During the two to three-day transferring period, the customer can either continue to use their existing SIM card, if they wish their family or friends to contact them on the same number, or they can use their newly purchased Nawras SIM card with a temporary number. Customers who use their existing SIM cards during the transferring period will be charged by their original mobile provider, in the same way they are used to. For example, for prepaid it will be immediately deducted from their balance, and for postpaid they will be billed by their original provider within the normal time frame. All calls made during the transferring period by the customer from their temporary Nawras number will either be deducted from their account, for Nawras Mousbak, or billed on their first Nawras bill statement, for Nawras Ajel.
Nawras will notify the customer by calling them once the transferring process is about to be completed. Once the transfer of the number is completed, the customer’s old SIM card will be disconnected and can be discarded. The customer is required to pay a RO3 transferring fee to Nawras, as determined by the TRA. This fee is passed on to the customer’s original mobile provider for transferring the number.
A live demonstration was carried out in presence of the media at the Nawras store at the main office simulating the process customers will go through in order to transfer their number to Nawras. Cormack outlined certain points that customers should remember when transferring their number to Nawras. He emphasised that customers should not cancel their existing contract before transferring, since once a mobile number is disconnected it cannot be transferred to Nawras. Also, the customers must be the registered users of the mobile number in order for them to transfer the number. “Nawras continues to listen to customer feedback through market surveys specially designed to improve its service. For example, customers told us that they found the original process of obtaining a Nawras Ajel subscription slightly cumbersome. Nawras listened and has changed the process accordingly. From today customers transferring to Nawras through Mobile Number Portability do not have to bring a salary certificate or make a deposit to purchase a new Nawras Ajel subscription. All they require is a valid Omani ID card, Resident Card or passport. Those transferring to a prepaid service need to bring one of the same documents. However, in order to offer customers more choice, prepaid customers wanting to transfer to Nawras also have the choice to migrate to postpaid and take advantage of Nawras Ajel’s best value prices,” Cormack said.To a query, Khalid Mahmood, COO, added that Nawras was ready to meet the flow of customers opting for the change.
Benefit of transferring your mobile number: Mobile Number Portability provides mobile customers in Oman with the freedom to choose between mobile providers by removing one of the most important barriers to transfer now allowing customers to keep their mobile number. Market research conducted by Nawras shows that a lot of customers would like to join Nawras, but they were hesitant because they would like to keep their mobile number.
Responding to queries, Cormack added: “The MNP clearly provides a lot of benefit to customers, as they will not have to inform their family, friends and colleagues about a new number. For business customers there are great cost savings too, since there is no need to reprint business cards, stationery, print advertising, web page, signage, and invoices.”
Why transfer to Nawras?
Since Nawras launched its commercial service and drove change in all aspects of mobile service, the people of Oman have experienced ever higher standards for mobile communications. Nawras has redefined the customer experience. Nawras Stores have become destinations of choice, with one-stop shopping for SIM-cards, handsets and bill payments, coupled with professional and friendly sales service and advice. In addition, customers can purchase Nawras welcome packs at over 500 points of sale as well as avail recharge cards at over 10,000 locations all over the Sultanate. Nawras offers Nawras Mousbak customers other forms of recharge such as electronic recharge, credit transfer and bank recharge; whilst Nawras Ajel customers have convenient bill payments at over 300 locations with Bank Muscat and Oman Arab Bank. This, reinforced by caring support from Nawras customer service champions, puts Nawras in a clear leading position in providing the best service to the people of Oman.
Nawras offers pleasingly different voice and data services through its next generation mobile broadband network with a superior voice quality (low congestion and number of dropped calls) and a fast and reliable mobile data access using EDGE technology, which is another Nawras “first” in Oman. Nawras was recently benchmarked to be amongst the top 10 per cent in most of the key performance indicators (KPIs) between 110 Ericsson mobile-operated networks worldwide.
Nawras was number one in three parameters including the least dropped calls. Nawras also provides the widest network coverage in the Sultanate, through its own broadband network as well as its coverage extension by using Oman Mobile’s network as back-up. In addition, Nawras offers customers wireless high-speed internet access with Nawras Internet at attractive rates, which can be purchased and set up within minutes. Nawras is the only mobile operator in Oman offering its customers an international data-roaming service in 13 countries including all the AGCC destinations, keeping its customers in touch with their e-mails and business appointments whilst on the move abroad.
Haitham Al Kharusi added: “We are extremely pleased to have achieved this milestone. I take this opportunity to thank the cross-functional team within Nawras who have worked extremely hard for over a year with one goal in mind to serve the people of Oman with the MNP service from today.
In addition, we extend our thanks to the TRA for their continual support and guidance and to Oman Mobile and Omantel for their cooperation in ensuring that service is delivered for the benefit of all mobile consumers in Oman.”