ICASA, the regulator for the South African communications sector, plans to implement a new regulation from as early as 02 October 2014. This new regulation may have far-reaching implications for mobile service operators in South Africa. This blog aims to explain the changes imposed by the new regulation and to demonstrate how they might affect your service.

There are three important changes imposed by the regulation:

Change 1: Short code services number change

When you register for a short code in South Africa, you simultaneously get four long numbers as well. These long numbers are associated with your registered short code - one for each mobile network operator (MNO). When your recipients receive a reply message from you, the recipient will see one of your 10-digit numbers as the sender (depending on which MNO they use). Your existing 10-digit number will change to a new 10-digit number starting with "090" with the implementation of the new regulation. These 10-digit numbers (sender ID's) are often the only way that a recipient can confirm that the message is truly coming from you, and not a fraudster. Note: Your Short Code and the way it works will not change. Only the long number will change.

The Impact:

Once the new number ranges are available, they may need to be changed on your systems depending on how you implemented the service in your systems. Should you feel that your users may be suspicious of the impending number change you may also choose to send a notification to your customers, so as to avoid suspicion of fraud and to negate user frustration. This is particularly important for mobile financial service providers, whose users are exceptionally security conscious.

Example:

SMS delivered to a handset would have yielded this number on the phone: +278212345671234 (different number on each network) After these changes, your customers will probably see a number like +279012345671234 (same length but different number).

Change 2: Tagged long number and dedicated long number ranges change

Many customers send multiple campaigns to subscribers over a short period. In many cases, recipients are required to reply (with "YES" for example) to several campaigns simultaneously. This can make it difficult to differentiate which campaigns the subscriber has replied to. Clickatell has helped to solve this problem by implementing tagged 10-digit number ranges. With the new regulation, the self-managed tagged number ranges (where you are able to tag the 10 digit number with additional digits yourself) will be discontinued. New 14-digit numbers will be issued to replace these. All dedicated Long Numbers will also change from 10-digit numbers to new 14-digit numbers.

The Impact:

As a result of the new regulation, tagged number ranges will no longer be permitted and you will not be able to tag on digits to your long number. You may be issued with a batch of 14-digit long numbers which you will need to use to achieve the same result as tagging a 10-digit number. If you have a dedicated long number, you will be allocated a new 14-digit long number. This means that there may be development required on your system to implement the new 14-digit long numbers to continue with your service.

Example:

You probably received a number form us such as +27821234567 and we allowed you to build longer numbers such as +278212345671111 or +278212345672222 After these changes, you will not receive a 10 digit number; we will allocate individual 14-digit numbers such as +279412345671111 or +279412345675656

Change 3: MT number changes

Apart from the two major changes above, all customers sending messages to South Africa will see a change in numbers displayed. This will require no action on your part, unless you want to inform your clients of the number change. Below are two examples of what to expect:

Example 1: Sending messages

SMS delivered to a handset would have yielded this number on the phone: +27820070220 (different number on each network) After these changes, your customers will probably see a number like +279612345671234 (different length and different number)

Example 2: Sending messages through Communicator:

SMS delivered to a handset would have yielded this number on the phone: +278212345671234 After these changes, your customers will probably see a number like +279612345671234 (same length but different number) Different customers implemented different solutions. These are only examples, which may differ depending on the way you use our service. We hope that this has helped to clarify the changes and their potential impacts on your services. Remember, we are always on hand to assist you over this transitory period. You can contact Clickatell Support, available 24/7/365, or your account manager. We are, furthermore, coordinating an effort to have the implementation of the regulation postponed, in order to allow more time for those who haven't yet made the necessary arrangements. For more information, we suggest that you review the Numbering Plan Regulations on the ICASA website.

UPDATE 

On 18 September 2014, iCASA agreed to postpone the implementation of the new regulation to 2015 at the earliest. Thanks to everyone who supported us in our petition. We will provide our customers with updates on the implementation of the new regulation.

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