Mobile Number Portability in India

What is Mobile Number Portability (MNP) ?

Mobile Number Portability enables the mobile phone end-user to retain their telephone number without compromising on quality, reliability and operational convenience when they change their service provider in a service area. It requires the originating network to determine the correct destination for a given number and forward the call to the destination network.

Why port? What are the benefits of Mobile Number Portability?

Benefits to subscribers:

  • Better quality & bouquet of value-added services offered by any operator
  • Competitive tariff package will be offered by all providers
  • Survival of the most competent and promising providers in the market

Benefits to mobile network providers and the mobile industry:

  • Updated technology and latest sophistication prevent stagnation of resource upgradation
  • Healthy competition between providers

What are the requirements for Mobile Number Portability?

An effective MNP system requires a database having information of the networks and associated imported or exported numbers. In India, a central as well as regional databases are being planned. Most countries have a centralized database service managed by a neutral third party. A centralized clearing house for electronically processing the importing / exporting requests also needs to be setup, to minimize the time to port (i.e. to transfer the numbers from one network to another).

Who manages the Ported Number Database?

The number database is managed by a neutral third party. The cost of the database is to be borne by each operator depending on the strength of their subscribers i.e. depending on their market share.

In India, Telcordia Technologies, formerly Bell Communications Research, Inc. has been granted a license by DoT to manage the portability clearing house for Zone 2 (Kolkata, Tamil Nadu including Chennai, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, North East, and Orissa).

What are the hurdles / issues faced by the MNP system?

  • Handset portability from GSM to CDMA type of networks
  • Constant updation of the database to keep it consistent
  • SMS routing (i. e. forwarding SMS’s between networks)
  • routing of Long Distance (National / International) calls
  • Altering the National Numbering Plan (which maintains the number format and series allocation of phone numbers for different services)
  • Cooperation of all stakeholders and mobile phone service providers
  • Dispute Resolution Machinery and Guidelines for mobile service providers
  • Coordinated billing for multi-mode facilities
  • Porting Fees and guidelines

When will MNP be implemented in India?

MNP was earlier to be implemented as below:

  • Phase 1 – 31-Dec-2009: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and circle A service areas (Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu)
  • Phase 2 – 20-Mar-2010: Other Parts of India.

12-May-2010:

MNP will be implemented from 30-Jun-2010 across India, for all circles, zones and operators. The decision was taken by the Department of Telecomm., since most of the providers had not upgraded their network and methods of working, for enabling ease of Number Portability. Testing phase is to be completed by 15-May-2010, by which all providers are to test the porting of dummy numbers and notify the DoT of their success.

Latest Update:

Mobile Number Portability to be implemented from 31-Oct-2010, since most of the Service Providers are still in the testing phase and some have not even bought the necessary equipment.

What is the procedure for porting numbers?

  • The end-user must submit a letter to the existing service provider, stating that he/she wishes to transfer their number to a new mobile service operator.
  • Within 5 days there will be a subscriber verification and identification by the existing service provider.
  • Within 2 days of verification, the application is to be sent to the clearing house to import/export the number.
  • The service providers must inform the customer about the exact date and time the porting will take place.

What are the regulations, terms and conditions for porting numbers?

  • The mobile number should have been with the current service provider for a term of 90 days or more. This prevents frequent change of provider and reduces the load on the porting database.
  • A non-refundable fee, not exceeding Rs. 19 is to be paid to the gaining provider for every porting transaction. This is due to the fact that the gaining provider has to complete more formalities than if they get a new subscription.
  • The porting request may be cancelled within 24-hours of making the application, but the porting fee will be non-refundable.
  • The portability of the number will be restricted only to a given license service area / circle within a zone. You will not be allowed to shift your number to a provider in another zone/region.
  • Post-paid customers can transfer their numbers only if they have cleared all outstanding payments.
  • Pre-paid customers who transfer their numbers to a different provider, will forfeit the remaining pre-paid balance in their account, just as if they were terminating their account.
  • The gaining provider, is not bound to pay any deposits or outstandings which are due from the old provider.

What is the Statute / Law governing Mobile Number Portability?

The Statute governing mobile number portability is called the Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Per Port Transaction Charge and Dipping Charge Regulations, 2009. It is to come into effect on 31-Dec-2009, although the date for actual porting has been delayed to March 2010.

Useful Links:

Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Per Port Transaction Charge and Dipping Charge Regulations, 2009 Bare Act

Source: http://www.trai.gov.in/

Regulation 20 Nov 09

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