Most telecom operators (telcos) have been claiming that MNP has not had a significant effect on their business. However, if the observations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are anything to go by, it seems they have been busy rejecting porting requests, defeating the whole purpose of the move. After getting a large number of complaints about rejection of MNP requests from subscribers, the TRAI has now directed telecom operators not to reject porting requests on flimsy grounds; apparently, telcos were rejecting porting requests for outstanding amounts as low as Rs 0.13, when they could adjust it in the subscriber’s next bill.

Also, a lot of porting requests were being rejected by operators on grounds that the mobile number was a premium/vanity number. The TRAI has said, that ” since numbering resource is allocated free of charge by the licensor, service providers are not justified in putting any condition for retaining premium numbers under the garb of contractual obligation.”

TRAI Guidelines

It has directed all telecom operators not to reject porting requests if:

– The outstanding payment due from the subscriber, in the previous paid bill, is less than Rs 10, which the service provider may include in the subsequent bill of the subscriber without any penal charges.

– On the grounds of contractual obligations, except in case of:
* A Post-paid connection with a bundled handset with contract, with an exit clause and the subscriber not complying to the clause.
* A Corporate connection with an exit clause and the subscriber not complying to it.

Recommendations Made By Telco Associations

The TRAI had conducted meetings with representatives of COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) and AUSPI (Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India), MNP service providers and other stake holders to discuss the reasons for the high number of rejections.

The COAI and the AUSPI in a joint letter dated 8th March replied to the TRAI and recommended that:

– Rejections on the grounds of contractual obligations should be limited to a bundled handset offer, corporate connection,  or any other contractual agreement against a premium number with an “exit clause” { Note that after MNP telcos are bargaining with subscribers and offering them choicest tariffs if they sign a contract that restricts their porting out.}

– Prepaid vanity numbers with an exit clause should also fall under contractual obligation category provided the same has been communicated to the customer prior to porting. { This means that telcos, on receiving porting requests should inform the customer that the number is a vanity number}

– The associations had also recommended that outstanding payment dues must be rounded off to the nearest rupee, so that porting request is not rejected on this ground.

Clearly, telcos seem to be obsessed with premium and vanity numbers and want to retain them in their networks. Did you care to check if there was an exit clause in the contract that you signed? How many of us really care to read the terms and conditions before signing up for a new connection?

Download: TRAI Directive (PDF)