Mobile Number Portability (mnp) was first launched in India in the state of Haryana on 25th of November 2010 on a trial basis. And after missing several deadlines it was finally introduced to the whole of India on 20th of January 2011. India was very late on Mobile Number Portability when compared to other nations. Mobile Number Portability was introduced in Hong Kong in 1999, in USA In 2003 and in Australia in 2001. The processing fees for the same is Rs 19 only. But it takes as much as 7 days to port the number. Whereas in countries like USA it takes a couple of hours in, 3 minutes in Australia and just a few seconds in New Zealand.
However there are several issues with Mobile Number Portability in India.
1) 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.
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?
2) 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.
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
3) 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).
4) Prepaid Users: Upon porting of the mobile number, the balance amount of talk time at the time of porting shall lapse. That means that if you have done e recharge or recharged your mobile online then you cannot use that balance with your new service provider.
5) 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.
6) Changed My Mind. A subscriber may withdraw his porting request within 24 hours of its submission. However, the porting charges are not refundable.
The major problems that customers face is that the operators are not ready to lose on their existing customers and so are not ready to port numbers. They give some ludicrous reasons for not porting the number.
But the good part of MNP has been that companies like Bharti Airtel, TATA DoCoMo, Reliance Telecommunication, Idea Cellular have launched new plans for their existing customers so that they do not lose the existing customer base. It will be interesting to see what tactics the companies use to get customers from rival service providers at the same time manage to keep their existing customer base.
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