Mobile Number Portability: Port of Distress?

The much awaited mobile number portability service was rolled out in January this year after a test launch in Haryana in November last year.

The much awaited mobile number portability service was rolled out in January this year after a test launch in Haryana in November last year. According to a report from TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), by the end of February, about 38.33 lakh subscribers opted for the service. In a country with over 80 crore mobile subscribers, this is still a significant number. The service allows subscribers to change their service provider while retaining the same number. This is a big draw as many people who were dissatisfied with their service provider would previously grudgingly put up with it solely because they didn’t wish to change their number. With MNP, they can easily change their service provider without having to worry about changing their number.

While the process seems quite simple, the execution is not without obstacles. People who have tried to port have faced a number of issues, leaving them in a lurch. Take, for instance, the case of Rajiv Patel, who ported from BSNL to Tata Indicom. He says, “I was not satisfied with BSNL mainly because of poor network. As I run a wholesale business, I didn’t want to change by number. So when MNP was launched, I decided to shift to Tata Indicom. Everything went fine; I even received the SMS informing me of the time and date when my number would be activated on Tata Indicom. But when that day arrived, I discovered that BSNL deactivated my number in the morning itself and there was nothing I could do but wait for Tata Indicom to activate my number. Thankfully, my number was activated sometime late in the night. However, the people who tried calling my number couldn’t reach me and were informed that this BSNL number has been temporarily disconnected. This continued for a week or two and finally after complaining, my issue was resolved. All in all, it was a nightmarish experience and I even lost some business as people could not reach me.”
Rajiv is not alone, as there many who faced similar predicament. Funnily enough, a few others found that their number was active on both service providers. Aditya Soni, who had a Reliance connection ported to Vodafone realized that his number was active in both places. The entire porting process in itself went smoothly other than this minor glitch, which he says went on for about a week. On the other hand, many users found their MNP request rejected due to various reasons, the most common being that they were part of special group plans. Another common ground for rejection was outstanding payment due at the existing provider.


While the scenario looks chaotic, not everyone faced issues with the porting process. Prateek Chakraverty, who had a BSNL connection and switched to Vodafone, says, “I had a BSNL connection and, as you can imagine, the network quality was pretty lousy. Hence, I decided to move to a private player. The MNP process for me took about 10 calendar days (8 business days). But, of course, it depends on the old network operator. If they choose to delay the process, it might take a while, which is 14-21 business days. There would be a "no service" window for about one hour before your number is ported to the new network operator, about which you will be informed well in advance.” 

Mobile Number Portability: Port of Distress?

Is it worth the hassle? Or is it Hassle-Free


With MNP, the power is finally in the hands of the consumer. If they are not satisfied with the service, talk plans, network, etc., they can switch to a different service without having to worry about changing numbers. On the other hand, in this highly competitive market, the service providers are tripping over each other to come up with exciting offers in a bid to retain their customers and woo others. While some have waived off the Rs 19 MNP fees, others are offering free talk time, free SMS, and even a free SIM card. But nothing beats the free pizza offer! Many users simply sent the SMS without ever intending to switch services, just for the free pizza.

Where to Lodge Complaints?
Almost all the service providers have set up dedicated helplines for MNP, but the experience is similar to calling up their regular helpline. It’s no guarantee that you will be able to get through, and if you do, you’ll probably be put on hold while the executive tries to figure out what’s wrong. Seven out of ten times, you will be asked to go to the customer care outlets, where you have submitted your documents. Most of the issues should get resolved at this stage. If not, you can approach the nodal officer of your service provider with the docket number of your complaint.

You will find the contact details of the nodal officer on your service provider’s website or the TRAI website. As with anything new, there are teething problems that have come to light and TRAI, along with the major players, is keeping an eye on the situation and making amendments wherever required.


Things to keep in mind before porting

  • Porting can be done in the same service area only. Mobile numbers cannot be retained for another city.
  • There should be no outstanding payment with your existing service provider.
  • Maximum porting time is 7 days in most parts of the country, except for Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Disruption time while switching off service providers cannot exceed two hours and happens during the night.
  • You will have to wait for a period of 90 days before you can switch again.

    For more information on Number Portability check out our earlier feature here.

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