28 Sep 2009

Mobile Number Portability: TRAI's commendable effort

In what seemed to be a promise whose implementation would linger on for ever, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally come out with a concrete game-plan for 'Mobile Number Portability' in the country partially effective from 1st of January 2010 and fully from 20th March, 2010.

The 'Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulations, 2009' were published last week by TRAI, dawning a new era of telecom revolution in India. The background to the issuance of these Regulations, has been described by TRAI as under;

Promotion of competition and efficiency in the telecom sector, particularly in the area of mobile telecommunication, requires, inter alia, the facilitation of easy movement of subscribers from one service provider to another or across mobile technologies. Mobile Number Portability (MNP) allows the subscribers to retain their existing mobile telephone number when they move from one Access Provider to another irrespective of the mobile technology or from one cellular mobile technology to another of the same Access Provider, in a licensed service area. The facility of retention of existing mobile telephone number despite moving to a new telecom service provider helps the subscriber maintain contact with his friends/clientele. Introduction of MNP also helps in increasing competition between the service providers and acts as a catalyst for the service providers to improve their quality of service.

Practically speaking, this move would lead to reduction in hassles of requiring one to send messages to pals and family of change in number due to relocation or otherwise. This would also lead to reduction in waste of numbers; numbers being taken for temporary purposes and then discarded thereafter. 

On the legal side, let us examine was the regulations have to offer;

- In the Regulations, “Mobile Number Portability” means the facility which allows a subscriber to retain his mobile telephone number when he moves from one Access Provider to another irrespective of the mobile technology or from one cellular mobile technology to another of the same Access Provider;

- The Regulations define service provider (“Access Provider”) to include those 'providing fixed wireline or fixed wireless services';

- The subscriber requesting the change of operator/services would be required to pay 'porting charges' to the new operator/service provider;

- The Regulations provide that all service providers are obliged to "facilitate in its entire network, Mobile Number Portability to all subscribers, both pre-paid and post-paid and shall, upon request, provide the same on a nondiscriminatory basis";

- Porting would be allowed only after a period of 90 days from the first activation or from last porting provided there are no outstanding bills of the earlier operator (called the 'Donor Operator' in the Regulations).

The Regulations also conceive a separate entity being granted a licence by the authorities for being a 'Mobile Number Portability Service Provider' which would actually be responsible for porting the number from one service provider to another.

In all, with the reality of number portability just around a few days to go, one can only say, Thanks TRAI !!!

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