Cellphone networks standardise short codes

By Georgina Crouth Time of article published Mar 24, 2018

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Network providers are phasing out having their own distinct numbers for accessing voicemail, loading airtime, checking balances or contacting customer care.

From today, all networks in the country – both cellular and fixed-line – will adopt standardised numbers and short codes, to comply with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s Numbering Plan Regulations.

The regulations and the standardisation of certain short codes apply to all independent electronic service licence holders.

Network providers have said they will operate a dual system, allowing the use of existing and new numbers. Both sets of codes will run concurrently until providers are confident that customers are familiar with the new codes. They did not say when the old numbers will be discontinued. 

The South African National Consumer Union’s chairperson, Marie van der Merwe, says there are shortcuts to accessing the networks. 

“Most cellphones have a shortcut way of accessing voicemail – for example, by pressing and holding ‘1’. When the user does this, the phone dials out a pre-set number, say 100 or 111, to access the voicemail service. This pre-set number used to be different for different networks,” she says.

Consumers who are unable to access their voicemail by the usual means should contact their network’s customer-care number, which is now 135. Alternatively, you can use your network provider’s apps to access customer care, recharge and check airtime balances, data, voicemail and SMSes.

The standardised numbers now in use across all the networks are:

• Voicemail retrieval: 132

• Voicemail deposit: 134 plus the last nine digits of your cellphone number

• Customer care: 135 or *135#

• Prepaid recharge: 136 

• Account enquiries: 137

• Airtime balance enquiry: *136#

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