Mobile number portability (MNP) can now be opted for by subscribers in Haryana. The service, which makes it possible for people to switch their mobile operator without having to change their number, is being rolled out across the country starting from Rohtak district of Haryana.
There are eight telecom operators in the Haryana circle. These are Airtel, Idea Cellular, BSNL, Aircel, Loop, Vodafone, Etisalat and Videocon. And while it will initially be permitted only within circles, MNP will be available throughout India by March next year.
Those who want to port their mobile number will have to SMS 1900 to receive a code. They will then have to fill up two forms which will ask for this code, and will have to submit their proof of identity to the new operator. Read our earlier story Mobile Number Portability in India
They will be required to pay a sum of up to Rs. 19 to the mobile operator that they want to migrate to. The operator will have the option of waiving either all or part of this fee, but will not be able to charge more.
Subscribers can only switch their network after having remained with their current network for at least three months. Both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers can opt to switch networks.
It will take a maximum of seven working days for a mobile number porting request to be processed, except in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North East telecom circles where it could take up to fifteen days.
There has been some concern over how MNP will affect the telecom industry, and some operators are attempting to attract subscribers from other service providers. Among these are BSNL, Idea Cellular and Tata Docomo.
India’s state run operator BSNL has advertised that it will give free talk time and unlimited GPRS to subscribers who switch to BSNL from some other operator. Tata Docomo says that it too will offer extra talk time and 100 MB of data free for a period of six months, with recharge coupons of Rs. 100, Rs. 200, Rs. 300 and Rs. 400.
Idea, meanwhile, has been running a television campaign comprising three ads that have people who are frustrated with their operator saying they have “No Idea” why they get huge bills, where their pre-paid balance went, or why their operator’s customer care service is inefficient. Abhishek Bachchan, the other protagonist in these ads and Idea’s brand ambassador, responds by saying, “Get Idea”. The ads end with the line: Mobile Number Portability Coming Soon, Switch to Idea. The telco wishes to advertise that Idea Cellular is inexpensive for both prepaid and post paid users, and that it provides prompt customer service.
Operators are most apprehensive of high paying post-paid business subscribers switching their numbers. Such users constitute about 5 percent of the total subscriber base but are responsible for 20 percent of operators’ revenues. They are also likely to have been very reluctant to change their subscriber earlier because losing their number would have hurt their business. Those among this group that are dissatisfied with their operator can easily opt for porting their mobile number now.