Now, consumers could start changing their mobile phone service providers without having to surrender their numbers by this year end.
Indian Telecom regulator TRAI has formulated the guidelines for mobile number portability (MNP), which will be introduced by August-end. TRAI also asked operators to keep their networks ready to roll out the services quickly.
Also, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) confirmed that the telecom operators are actively working on that, but they still need some clarification, but the association substantiates that MNP should come by September this year.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had issued guidelines for MNP implementation in August 2008. Also, in March, DoT had selected two US companies, Syniverse and Telcordia, as technology providers for the implementation. Syniverse will implement the technology in north and west, while Telcordia would handle the services in the south and the eastern states.
Now the question is what MNP is and what are its benefits to common user? Is there any hidden agenda or ill-effects of this transformation? Let’s check it out in the feature.
Mobile number portability (MNP)
MNP enables users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another, avoiding the costs of switching to new numbers. Like India, various countries asked mobile telephone network operators to offer MNP, but the question is whether it can produce positive net benefits.
Benefits of number portability
1. It facilitates consumers to choose across mobile operators, as it removes the inbuilt cost of a number change when moving to a new provider.
2. Any number change involves a natural cost to the user, who would otherwise have to notify friends, family, partners and allies of their new number or re-print cards or stationary.
3. With MNP, consumers can move in between operators, where they may get a better deal on tariffs or services with another operator.
4. The service will be available to both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers.
Number Portability problems
1. High end-user charges for MNP can deter usage of the facility. According to the state-owned Telco BSNL, upgrading networks to allow MNP would cost the company about Rs 1,200 crores and only 2% of the elite customers were likely to use this facility, which suggest that it will cost about Rs 6,000 per user to port their number. Hence, various telecom companies want users to bear number portability cost.
2. Consumers who have wireless connection or any contractual agreement with the service operator could be in trouble by losing its contract or remaining money on the operator, as there is no clear guideline available yet.
3. Also, the process of switching to the new operator will take time and it can run upto 5 days.
4. For a new vendor, with limited infrastructure, it will be very difficult to sustain in the competitive atmosphere and hence, the change-over rate will be higher when MNP is there.
Various customers switch operators at some point after their new mobile subscription, which has many reasons, e.g. changes in individual demand patterns, service innovation, operator new offerings and changing price and quality propositions. So, with the help of new portability, consumers would not change the number but only the service provider without paying any cost.