South African corporates and consumers are abandoning copper technology at the rate of some 15 000 lines every month.

This is according to independent telecoms provider, OTEL Telecoms, quoting ICASA (Independent Communications Regulatory Authority of SA) figures from the latter’s most recent State of the South African ICT Sector Report.

The report indicates that 14 571 geographic number ports have taken place monthly during the period from October 2014 to Oct 2015. The Number Portability Company, for its part, says 718 134 geographic numbers were ported from April 2010 to April 2016.

OTEL says the numbers apply to geographic fixed line numbers starting with 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05 that have been transferred to VoIP telecoms firms at the user’s request. The statistics include geographic numbers ported to fixed line operators, but those estimates are in the mere hundreds or less. The VoIP 080, 086 and 087 number ranges cannot be ported.

“Many more users choose to port to VoIP than away from it because fixed line is old technology that’s an anomaly today. VoIP is the latest portable telecoms technology that can follow the small business as it grows into a big business. It can be physically transported to a new location, scaled up or down, and be switched back on in minutes,” said Rad Jankovic, OTEL CEO.

VoIP is cheaper than it has ever been because of plummeting interconnection rates between telecoms networks and the voice quality is excellent because of faster local data speeds.

“SMEs, in particular, are sensitive to price and service fluctuations and believe that contracting with independent telcos is the way to go. They appreciate our ability to create customised and flexible offerings as well as the personalised service that smaller telcos are able to provide,” Mr Jankovic says. OTEL is large enough to offer world-class infrastructure to its SME customers at competitive prices, while being small enough to offer fast, effective and personal service.

It may take between three working days for one number to be ported and up to ten working days for blocks of numbers to be ported to VoIP.