CA unveils new prefix for SIM card numbering

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Engineer Francis Wangusi (centre), addresses the press during the launch of the new prefix at CA (Photo by Arthur Kuwashima)

Did you know that more than one million sim cards are used for machine to machine communication in Kenya? This is according to a Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) analysis that sought to unveil the possible exhaustion of the millions of the popular 07** prefix for SIM card numbering in the country.

The CA has consequently introduced a new prefix for SIM card numbering with which human consumers get an exclusive prefix 01** whereas machines and other platforms in need of such resources get the 03** prefix.

Addressing the media on 30th April at the CA, Engineer Wangusi said, “The communications Authority of Kenya has released a new mobile number prefix 01** to be used in Kenya in addition to the existing 07** with immediate effect following the exhaustion of the 07** prefix numbers.”

This move was necessitated by the increased demand for SIM cards, mobile data and machine to machine communications in the country alongside other emerging technologies that require telecommunication numbers.

In addition to the new numbering plan, the authority has also put in place the procedures and guidelines for proper management of the mobile numbers such as online platforms to ease the application for numbers and separated the prefixes for human communications from those intended for machine to machine communications.

“03** will be the new prefix for machine to machine communications whereas, the 01** prefix will be exclusively for human subscribers,” alluded Wangusi.

According to the new plan, each prefix provides for 100 million numbers with two major telcos; Safaricom and Airtel already acquiring two million and three million of such respectively.

0110** and 0111** will be the new prefix for Safaricom SIM cards while Airtel will bear 0100**, 0101**, 0102** each of which block carries a capacity of one million SIM card numbers.

The Authority also mentioned that the new numbering system would not have cost implications on consumers, asking the Kenyan mobile phone users to take note of the new numbering system that would effect immediately and not ignore calls from such prefixes as being international.

“To the SIM card consumers, should you get a call from a number that starts with 01**, do not think it is international or not Kenyan. It is indeed the new prefix for Kenya,” added Eng. Wangusi.

Mobile subscriptions base as depicted in the latest review by CA shows an increase in mobile subscriptions by 6.2% to stand at 49.5 Million subscribers. This translates to a mobile penetration level of 106.2%, the surplus attributed to multiple SIM card ownership in the country.

The review also indicates a 45,333,942 as the Terrestrial Wireless data subscribers, Satellite data subscribers as 58,864, Fixed Fibre Optic Data subscribers as 175,824 and Fixed Cable Modem subscribers as 126,808 among others with the total number of Internet Subscription by Technology being 45, 705, 440.

Multiple SIM card ownership has in the past been linked to fraud especially the electronically, what the CA however promises Kenyans not to fret over as a long term plan is being worked on how to limit SIM card ownership.

Wangusi notes that the neighboring countries like Tanzania that limits one SIM card ownership per network to an individual although such laws are yet to be incorporated in Kenya.

He says, “The Authority will continue monitoring the ongoing demand for telecommunication numbers as the market develops even with the launch of the Internet of Things and 5G mobile services to ensure optimal use of numbering resources in Kenya even in the face of multiple SIM card ownership.”

The recounts the initial allocated prefixes as 100 million voice numbers, and notes that although the population in Kenya is 45 million, many emerging applications one of them being machine to machine communications, have contributed largely to the exhaustion of the 07** prefix numbers.

The new numbering and resource requirement platform allows for applicants to view the entire numbering resources available and track their requests.

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