Incase you do not know before now, I think you should know that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had in March 2023 directed all telecommunications providers to begin the process of matching USSD codes on all Nigeria mobile networks in which the deadline was set to be Wednesday, May 17, 2023. So if you have tried buying a data bundle or recharging your line with the old USSD code for your mobile network, you would most certainly realize that you were directed to use another code. This is due to the new USSD Codes for mobile operators in Nigeria in accordance to NCC.
To make it clearer, for instance, as an MTN subscriber, you can no longer recharge your line using the regular MTN codes *555*recharge pin# or *556# to check balance. The same applicable to Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile.
In accordance with the NCC, the new codes are as follows:
New USSD Code for all Mobile Networks in Nigeria:
- Data Plans — *312#
- Recharge — *311*
- Borrow Airtime — *303#
- Data Balance — *323#
- Account Balance — *310#
- Share Data — *321#
- VAS — *305#
- NIN — *996#
- Value-added Services — *305#
Moreso, it implies that whichever mobile network provider— be it MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile, or any other—that decline migration to the new codes above will be unable to provide services to its customers. Also, it shows that all mobile network services will utilize a single customer support number, as well as a single code for credit recharge and a code for checking data balances. Isn’t that interesting? No more needs for memorising several codes for your multiple mobile networks in Nigeria.
What are unified USSD codes?
Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is a telecommunications system that enables users to perform certain functions. These include checking airtime balance, airtime recharge, and accessing value-added services.
USSD services do not require an Internet connection to works and have been an instant hit in sub-Saharan Africa. Where it was mainly used by telecommunications operators, it has now been adopted by the banking industry, and virtually every commercial bank in Nigeria has a USSD code. The effect is that customers can check their account balances, open accounts, and send money using a USSD code.
All these competing services have different codes for different purposes. Sending airtime, for example, requires a different code from checking airtime balance. With many Nigerians using more than one network provider, the NCC wants to unify these codes. Consequently, an MTN subscriber can now use the same code for airtime recharges on Glo or Airtel.
Why is the NCC pushing for unified USSD codes?
The NCC began pushing for the harmonisation of USSD short codes in 2017. That year, it hired a project consultant to conduct research and spearhead the project.
A report it released stated that the major benefit of a unified USSD system would be eradication of the need for users to memorize several codes. It also stated that 84% of 3-digit codes, 98% of 4-digit codes, and 99% of 5-digit codes would be free for reallocation once the system is well-implemented. But these are not the only benefits the NCC foresee.
The NCC believes that it would stimulate competition among telecommunications service providers. They also believes that the process would streamline marketing efforts. However, the report discloses that this process would have some disadvantages also. One of the disadvantages it identified was the need for network providers to reconfigure their equipment. The report also stated that network providers could lose some of their customers as a result of the change.
What USSD code remains unchanged?
Note: If you try any of these codes and they do not work, you may have to try the old ones, as some network providers have yet to adopt the new USSD codes fully. It is also important to note that the commission did not change some codes and their functions; these codes are
- 996 now verifies subscriber identity module (SIM) registration or NIN-SIM linkage.
- 2442 is retained for Do-Not-Disturb (DND) unsolicited messaging complaint management.
- 3232 is also retained for porting services, otherwise called mobile number portability