India’s telecom regulator TRAI has finally announced the framework and rules of mobile number portability, which will allow mobile users to retain their mobile number while shifting to a new cellular service provider.
India had 456.74 million mobile connections as of August 2009 and is adding 12-15 million every month. With 13 operators, the regulations for mobile number portability at this scale had to be robust and airtight. After inviting opinions and comments (a list of comments can be found here) from the various stakeholders of the ecosystem, TRAI has come up with a framework that might be a little constrictive for the consumer, but it does not go easy on the operators either.
(Updated) When will Mobile Number Portability Be Operational?
Subscribers in metros and category ‘A’ service areas (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra & Goa and Andhra Pradesh) will be able to apply for mobile number portability starting this new year’s eve. Others in B and C class cities will have to wait for 3 more months (March 20, 2010, to be precise) to be able to shift to a new network. They will be missing out on the deals and promotions being offered in the meantime and the launch of new telco Uninor (the recently renamed Unitech Wireless) which is expected end of year.
Criteria For Applying For MNP, 3 Month Rule
– MNP facility shall be available only within a given licensed service area. So if you are moving to another city and want to retain your mobile number, MNP is not the answer. Mobile users may only apply for MNP if they want to switch networks in the same area where their existing mobile number is registered.
Our Take: This reduces the relevance and convenience for a consumer – why should portability be limited by service area? India has a migrating population of urban consumers who switch cities when they change a job. Why not relieve them of the inconvenience of changing numbers?
– The 3 Month Rule. A subscriber is eligible to make a porting request only after 90 days of the date of activation of his mobile connection. If a number is already ported once, the number can again be ported only after 90 days from the date of the previous porting. TRAI has explained that this minimum period is required so as to enable the service provider to recover the customer acquisition cost.
Our Take: There are two sides to this – in the first instance, a consumer who is dissatisfied with an operators service in the first month itself is being forced to suffer for another two months. On the other hand, it will prevent a situation where consumers take undue advantage of freebies from operators as a reason for constantly switching.
– Disconnected: After porting of a mobile number, if it remains disconnected for 90 days, it will be reversed back to the number range holder (original operator).
– Whom To Approach? SMS the operator to which you want to switch and ask for your unique porting code, which is an alphanumeric code allocated upon request. Operators have been directed to set up a mechanism (a shortcode) to receive the SMSs and respond with the unique porting code. Subscribers will also have to give in writing their request to the operator to which they are switching and fill up a customer acquisition form, which the operator will verify.
– Operator’s Task: After verifying the porting code, identity and address of the user, the recipient operator (which the subscriber is joining) has to forward details to the mobile number portability service provider within 24 hours.The operator has to pay a ‘per port transaction’ charge for each request forwarded by it to the MNP provider. They would have to examine the request carefully as there is no provision for refund of porting charges from the MNP provider.
Download: TRAI’s Regulations For Mobile Number Portability
– Price? Users will have to pay a porting charge to the operator to which you are switching. The price has not been fixed yet and could be anywhere between Rs. 20 to Rs. 200. You will not need to pay a penny to the operator you are leaving.
– No Dues. The subscriber making the porting request should clear all the bills issued prior to the date of porting request. He shall provide a written undertaking that he has already paid all billed dues as on the date of the request for porting and that he shall pay dues to the operator till its eventual porting. In the event of non-payment of any such dues to, the ported mobile number shall be liable to be disconnected.
– Prepaid Users: Upon porting of the mobile number, the balance amount of talk time at the time of porting shall lapse.
– Legal Criteria. MNP will not be permitted if there is a pending request for change of ownership of the mobile number; if it is sub-judice and if the porting has been prohibited by a court. In case a subscriber has not complied with exit clauses in his contractual obligations, the request can be rejected.
– Changed My Mind. A subscriber may withdraw his porting request within 24 hours of its submission. However, the porting charges are not refundable.
– Routing: Once the donor operator has disconnected the mobile number and the recipient operator has activated it, the MNP provider allocates the corresponding Location Routing Number to the ported number in the Number Portability Database and broadcasts the updated Location Routing Number along with the ported mobile number to all Access Providers and International Long Distance Operators who shall update their respective Local Number Portability Database.
– Per Port Transaction Charges: Recipient operators have to pay the MNP provider per port transaction charges on a monthly basis.
– Interconnect Agreements: All existing interconnect agreements and arrangements between Access Providers, National Long Distance Operators and
International Long Distance Operators shall stand amended so as to conform to the provisions of these regulations as regards routing of calls to and from ported mobile numbers.
– How Long Will It Take? The porting process will take a maximum time period of 4 days in all licensed service areas except in the case of J&K, Assam and North East where the maximum time allowed is 12 days. Weekends are excluded from this time frame.
– No Service Period: The window period for disconnection and activation by operators has been kept at one hour each, so the maximum downtime for the subscriber will be two hours.
(with inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)
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