Updated 21/1/2011: MNP offers from BSNL, Vodafone and MTNL a day after the official launch of MNP
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announced, on November 20, 2009, that Mobile Number Portability (MNP) will be introduced in India, on December 31, 2009.
TRAI said that subscribers in India will be able to change their service providers while keeping the same mobile number, at a fee of no more than Rs 19. It doesn’t matter whether you want switch from GSM to CDMA or vice-versa, or within GSM and CDMA opetaors; you can still retain the same number. However, initially, you will be able to switch operators and retain the number only within the same telecom circle. You cannot retain the same number and change operators if you want to, say, move from Delhi to Mumbai.
TRAI also said that service providers will be able to charge any amount less than or equal to Rs 19.
MNP will be introduced in India, in two phases. It will first be introduced in Indian metros and Category A telecom zones, on December 31, 2009, and subsequently in the rest of the country, by March 20, 2010.
Subscribers must pay up all pending bills before making an application for MNP. The porting fees is to be paid to the new operator. No payment is required to be given to the operator you are leaving. TRAI said that porting between mobile operators should be accomplished within four days. There’s a catch though. You cannot switch operator and retain number if you have been with that operator for less than three months. Prepaid users must remember that their balance talk time will disappear if they switch to a different operator. The maximum downtime between deactivating the existing connection and starting the new connection will be a maximum of two hours.
As for Dipping charges, the charge will be mutually agreed upon between a service provider or international long distance provider to the MNP service provider.
Licences were provided to two MNP Service Providers (MNPSPs) for two zones in the country, earlier in the year.
Dipping charges are charges that a service provider would need to pay to use the query response systems of the two MNP service providers. Service providers can use the query response systems to get the Location Routing Number for routing a message to the called number.
The MNP service provider will need to fix the Dipping charge thirty days from the date of publication of these regulations in the official Gazette, TRAI said.
The charge may be reviewed after a period of one year.
The move is sure to unsettle the market. It will generate fierce competition between service providers and force big ones to improve their services. At the same time, it will benefit new players immensely. Several surveys have found that about 7-10% of all mobile users are unhappy with their current mobile service provider. Introduction of mobile number portability will facilitate the easy exit of disgruntled users. This also means telcos will have to put more effort to retain those customers, who earlier stayed loyal to the operator out of the necessity of retaining their number.
Mobile operators offering telecom services in India include state-owned BSNL and MTNL, besides private operators like Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Loop Mobile, Aircel, MTS and Tata Indicom/DoCoMo. Once mobile number portability is across in India, every operator will have to facilitate customers’ exit from and entry to their networks with the same number.