It hasn't been long since our Prime Minister announced mobile number portability across the country. The main question still remains, why should someone change to a different operator? One (big) reason is that before MNP was actually announced, switching to another operator involved a procedure of submitting documents and in the end when you finally got your number, you had to inform family, friends and colleagues about the change.

All that will now change with the introduction of MNP. Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Mobile Number Portability.

What is Mobile Number Portability?
If you’ve not been updated about this, this service lets you stick to your current number and switch to another operator. For instance, if you are not happy with your current service provider, or if you’re getting a better tariff plan that suits your requirement with another, you can change to that particular provider without having to give up your existing number.

Is it possible to change service operators between circles? For E.g. Move to another city and change to a different operator

Well you can’t do this, at least for now. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has allotted two zones so that all number porting requests don’t overload a single Mobile Clearing House.  

Zone I consists of Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Eastern and Western Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir Licensed Service Areas (LSA).

Zone II includes Kolkata, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, North East and Orissa LSAs

Because of the configuration of individual Telecom circles, porting can happen between Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh; Bihar & Jharkhand; Rest of West Bengal & Andaman and Nicobar; within the states of the North East except Assam. Apart from these states, you cannot move between any other circle or zone. So if you want to switch operators between Mumbai and Delhi that's not going to happen just yet.

What if I want to switch from GSM to CDMA or vice versa or CDMA to CDMA?
There’s no problem in doing that. You’re only moving from one service provider to another and there’s no need to worry about mobile technologies. You just need to make sure that you have a GSM-enabled handset when moving to a GSM operator or a CDMA handset when moving to a CDMA operator.

I'm changing to.. uhh..

What’s the exact procedure of porting a number?
1. Get your Unique Porting Code (UPC) by sending a message titled – PORT followed by your number and then send this message to 1900.

2. Get in touch with the Recipient operator (the one you wish to switch to). This can be done by going to their customer centers or retail outlets. There you’re supposed to make a 'Port-in' request by filling a Customer Agreement Form (CAF) and a 'Port-in' form. The documents that you need to submit include a copy of your address and identity proof. A PAN Card, Passport or Driving License will do for Identity while your Ration card or electricity bill is good enough as your address proof. In case you are a post-paid consumer, you’ll also have to provide a copy of your last bill, fully paid of course, to your previous service provider.

Remember, you cannot port your number to another operator with any outstanding dues held with your existing provider. In the case of pre-paid users, once your mobile number gets ported, your remaining balance will lapse. So make sure to use all your balance out before porting.

3. Once all your documents are submitted, your number will undergo the porting procedure. This should take around 7 days, no more than that as per TRAI regulations. Don’t worry about your number suddenly going inactive; it will be active for this period. However, when your new service gets activated, your service will be disrupted for 2 hours, sometime between 10.00 pm to 5.00 am so that you aren't inconvenienced too much.

What if I'm not happy with the new service provider?
Okay so you've made a wrong decision. You'll have to stick to this service provider for the next 90 days till you can switch again. After that, you can try your luck again.

What happens to my old SIM card?
You will get a new SIM card, so be sure to backup all contacts from your previous one. Your old SIM card will be rendered useless. It goes without saying that this card cannot be used any further, so you can trash your old SIM card.

Well this could have been handled better, looking at the fact that so many cards and in turn, so much of plastic and silicon will be wasted. Rather there could've been an option of re-using the SIM card wherein returning the old SIM gets you a refund or something.

How much do I need to pay for the Porting Service?
The procedure of porting is not supposed to be charged more than Rs. 19 in any scenario. The porting fee has been regulated by TRAI and every mobile phone operator is supposed to follow it.

Guess which phone uses what operator?

What happens to the account with the previous operator, is it supposed to be canceled manually? Also, what happens to the value added services with the previous operator?
Well once you’ve gone through all this for porting your number, the rest happens automatically. Your previous account as well as the value added services with that service, everything, will be terminated.

Why should I change to another operator in the first place?
Quite often, some service providers in a particular area do not give you satisfactory services in terms of coverage, customer support and the like. Next comes the flexibility of getting a plan of your choice. If you are a heavy mobile internet user, some providers have better tariff plans than others. While 3G has been rolled out by quite a few service providers, it’s quite possible that all of them do not have the same level of support just yet. So change only if you must, not because your neighbor did it!

At the end of this, our advice is to thoroughly research which plan suits you the best. Of late, many companies have been advertising and giving you a hundred reasons to join them. Right from promises of better network coverage to better customer support, some will also rate themselves highly in a particular survey. Make sure that these advertisements don't get the better of you. Number Portability has just increased your choices, so make the most of it!

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