Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mobile Number Portability

So TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) ruled that all Operators in India should provide mobile number portability by 20th January, 2011 at the latest. We just figured we’d try to explain the details of this, as much as we know now. Keep in mind that India is entering the era of mobile number portability (MNP) only now, so things could change as we go along. As of the time of writing this (4th December, 2010) MNP is not yet available in all telecom circles in India, having been launched only in Haryana. TATA Docomo has a nice website section explaining MNP, with Airtel not far behind in putting out some nice offers for customers wishing to make the switch. The Vodafone website was constantly down at the time of writing this article, and hence, we were unable to confirm if they have announced any plans for customers wishing to switch to Vodafone from other mobile network providers. Reliance Infocomm does not appear to have released any details till now. As a customer, what’s in it for you? Read on to find out.

What is Mobile Number Portability (MNP)?

MNP is a scheme which allows the transfer of a mobile phone connection’s number (such as 9812312345) to any operator within India. So if you are currently using an Airtel connection, and the grass looks greener (doesn’t it always?!) on the TATA Docomo network, then you may want to switch providers. The primary reason for doing this instead of taking a new SIM from TATA Docomo would be that you get to retain a new number. Many of us have been using our mobile phone connections for years, and we simply can’t afford to lose contact with a bunch of people just because we want to save a few bucks on our monthly phone bills. But with MNP, we can switch to another service provider to save money AND maintain our current phone number. That’s pretty cool.

How can I utilise Mobile Number Portability (MNP)?

The procedure is fairly simple – you would need to SMS – PORT <your current number> – to 1900. Your current telecom provider would then send you a UPC code. This code is valid only for 24 hours. You would then need to walk in to a retail outlet/showroom of the telecom provider to whom you wish to switch to, and obtain a new connection for porting your number to their network. You would need to possess all documents required for new mobile connections, such as ID proof, address proof, etc. For postpaid connections, the actual procedure differs slightly. We suggest that you check with the company to which you wish to transfer your number to, before proceeding.

What are my benefits?

Your benefits, first and foremost, are that you could utilise the charging schemes of the new network; so if STD’s your thing, and BSNL is the best provider for that, you could transport your number to the BSNL network, all without changing your existing number. Second, mobile service providers are coming up with several “offers” designed to woo customers away from competing networks – with free minutes, free data, etc. (for a limited time, in most cases)

Is there any “fine print” that I should know of?

TRAI has come down heavily on mobile telecom providers for charging high rates for sending that SMS to 1900, among other things, but the pertinent details that you absolutely must know are summed up here.

* SMS to 1900 – costs standard SMS charge

* Porting your number to the new network – not more than Rs. 19.00

* Requirements for porting number – all dues to current telecom provider should have been fulfilled, if postpaid; prepaid customers would lose all existing balance, when the number is ported

* Time taken to port the number – could be anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days; for certain regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and North East circles, it could take upto 15 days.

* After submitting the request to port the number, you would need to wait until your new service provider sends you an SMS on your current number, providing the date when your number would be active on their network.

* You would need to start using the new SIM from your new mobile service provider on the specified date. There would be a loss of service to your number for 2 hours (maximum) between 12 am (midnight) and 5 am, during which neither the SIM from your existing provider, nor the SIM from your new provider would be functional.

* After this loss of service, you would need to start using your new SIM

* After porting your number to a different network, you must stay on that network for a minimum of 3 months. So if you’re thinking you could switch every month to a different provider, think again – you’ll be stuck with your new provider for atleast 3 months.

Mobile Number Portability appears to be a good feature that many Indians would like to use. It would also mean that mobile telecom providers need to provide better services and offers to keep their existing customers with them. That’s never a bad thing now, is it? Of course not.


Anonymous said...

Thanks MNP is very nicely explained in detail

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