Finally, things seem to be moving in the direction of the “One Nation-Full Mobile Number Portability” plan of the government, which it has been harboring for a while now. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a pre-consultation paper on “Full Mobile Number Portability (Pan-India Number Portability)”. The new plan follows the provisions of the National Telecom Policy 2012 (NTP-2012) that the nation's Communications minister, Kapil Sibal, unveiled last year. The NTP-2012 spoke at length about the mobile number portability. It had been stated that the new rules will allow mobile users to keep their phone numbers even if they plan to change their service providers anywhere across the country.
TRAI received a reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) seeking recommendations of TRAI under TRAI Act for MNP across licensed circles. However, there are a host of issues that need to be addressed before the MNP Act is implemented fully, like processing of porting requests, routing, charging and testing.
Seeking industry inputs (Image credit: Getty Images)
Furthermore, TRAI is seeking views from stakeholders on issues like optimum method of implementing Inter-service area porting, amendments required in the existing license conditions of the MNP service license, generation of UPC by roaming subscriber and modifications required in the present MNP regulations.
The nation’s telecom minister Kapil Sibal has set February 2013 as the deadline for nationwide Mobile Number Portability (MNP), as per recent reports. He assured that by this date, postpaid users in the country will be able to use their existing numbers even if they have moved to another state. While the deadline has been set, there is no getting away from the fact that the task of setting up an infrastructure to manage the shift won't be easy. While at the moment there are two entities looking after MNP, officials have cleared that they have “limited capacity and scaling up over the next two months may be a tough task”.
Sibal also announced that MNP has been made a part of the department's agenda for the months leading to February. Sibal added that the other key initiatives that have sought completion by February 2013 include approval of spectrum assignment and pricing, unified licences regime, M&A guidelines, finalisation of guidelines for spectrum sharing, creation of fund for R&D and manufacturing, including nationwide MNP.
Mobile Number Portability became popular upon its grand launch because it gave subscribers a chance to move out of their existing service provider onto a new service provider without having to forego their number. With power in their hands, subscribers no longer found themselves tied to their existing providers, if they were unhappy with them.
While the portability option received a thumbs up from the user community, instances of porting requests being rejected left a bitter taste with some. TRAI, for one, as mentioned earlier, has been highly vocal about their stance on MNP in India. For one, the TRAI declared that no donor operator could accept withdrawal or cancellation of porting requests, which it receives from a subscriber, either in a written form, or through an SMS or a voice call. The body further aimed to discourage the practice by announcing that such a practice is illegal, since there is no such provision.