From Jan 20, switch mobile operator but keep number

 NEW DELHI: Exasperated with your present mobile service provider but unwilling to switch because that would mean changing your number? Soon, you’ll be free to change operators at will, for a nominal transaction fee of Rs 19. On Thursday, telecom minister Kapil Sibal launched mobile number portability (MNP) in Haryana. Nationwide implementation is expected to be completed by January 20.

Of course, the implementation of MNP has missed many deadlines. In March 2006, Trai had recommended that MNP be implemented by April 1, 2007. In December 2009, the government set a deadline of March 31, 2010 for its implementation, which was extended to June 30, 2010 and later to October 31, 2010.

From Friday, mobile phone customers in Haryana can port their numbers provided a minimum period of 90 days has elapsed after subscription to the mobile service of the current service provider. For change of service provider or porting, a subscriber has to send an SMS (PORTMobile Number) from the number s/he wishes to be ported, to number 1900 whereby a Unique Porting Code (UPC) will be received on SMS from the current serviceprovider. The subscriber will need to apply in the prescribed application form to the chosen new service provider quoting the UPC which will act as a reference while filling up the application form with the new service provider.

The new service provider will then take action to get the required processes completed to enable the subscriber to get connected to his network. Porting has to be completed within seven working days. Before making the porting request, subscribers have to make sure that their last bill has been paid failing which the request for change to new service provider shall be rejected. In the case of pre-paid subscribers any balance amount left will not be carried forward when the number is transferred to the new service provider.

MNP works best with post-paid customers, as they are the highest paying of the lot. Of India’s over 700 million users, post-paid customers are no more than 7%-8 %, while the rest are pre-paid. Even with an expected 5% churn in the post-paid category, a limited impact on price or quality is expected, as the larger pre-paid customers usually don’t worry about changing mobile numbers, while switching operators. Operators believe they will lose and gain roughly the same number of users.

However, a recent study by The Nielsen Company said that as many as 18% of India’s mobile subscribers are waiting to change their operator.

This contrasts severely with data flaunted by India’s mobile operators, who have not supported the launch of MNP for many years on the grounds that globally, only 1% of mobile consumers port their numbers, which makes the introduction of MNP a waste of money.

Source: Times of India

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