Acting on complaints about Mobile Number Portability being denied for corporate numbers, owing to “contractual obligations”, the India Telecom regulator TRAI has allowed mass portability for corporate accounts: Mobile numbers can now be ported for corporate accounts, as long as there is a letter of authorization from the authorised signatory of the corporate mobile numbers. In fact, as many as 50 corporate numbers can be ported out with a single porting request. The guidelines will come into effect 90 days from now, and telecom operators will be allowed 48 hours to port users out, as opposed to 24 hours for individual porting requests.
Mobile number portability has been around for quite a while – since January 2011 – and Indian telecom has, till April 2013, received 91 million porting requests. That’s an average of around 3.3 million porting requests per month on an average. The number of porting requests has fluctuated quite a bit:
Oct 2012: 53.61 Lakhs
Nov 2012: 19.86 Lakhs
Dec 2012: 29.35 Lakhs
Jan 2013: 42.03 Lakhs
Feb 2013: 25.66 Lakhs
Mar 2013: 28.65 Lakhs
There is, of course, the issue that the telecom operators haven’t been particularly open to allowing MNP: requests to port out have denied often, so much so that the TRAI decided to set up a fine, if they are in contravention of TRAI’s MNP regulations: A fine of Rs 5000 in case they don’t port users out within a specified time, and Rs 10,000 in case there is contravention of a request to port. In February 2012, it had issued a directive to all telcos asking them not to reject MNP porting requests on the grounds that they received a cancellation request from a subscriber through SMS, voice calls and in written form.
It appears that this refusal to port, owing to “contractual obligations” was just another ruse from telecom operators to prevent customers from porting out.
I think not allowing customers to port out is stupid. Telecom operators are not taking into account that the easier they make it for a customer to leave them, the more likely it is that the customer will feel comfortable coming back. I remember cancelling a Tata Indicom data card a few years ago – it didn’t work for three months after I had bought it, and I got fed up of trying to cancel it. I eventually had to pay the monthly fee, even though it hadn’t worked, and with that, Tata Tele lost me as a customer, for life. The tougher they make it for a customer to port out, the less likely that that customer will ever return.