Mobile Number Portability (which allows subscribers to retain their existing mobile telephone numbers when they switch from one operator to another) will debut today starting from Rohtak in Haryana. Consumers who are not happy with their existing operator can move to another, irrespective of mobile technology or from one technology to another of the same operator within a circle. The system is likely to be launched in other parts of the country by the end of December provided the operators are ready with their network.
For porting, a subscriber has to send an SMS (PORTMobile Number) from the number he wishes to be ported, to number 1900. The subscriber will receive a Unique Porting Code (UPC) by SMS from his current service provider.
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 get connected to his network. Porting has to be completed within seven working days. TRAI has fixed a ceiling of Rs 19 on porting charges which the new service provider may collect from the subscriber. Post-paid subscribers, before making the porting request, 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 subscriber, any balance amount left will not be carried forward when the number is transferred to the new service provider. Once a subscriber ports his number to the new operator, then, he will have to wait for at least 90 days before he can change his operator again.
According to TRAI estimates, about 10 per cent of the mobile subscriber base is expected to avail itself of the service in the first year, which will fall down to just 5 per cent by the third year. But the system will force operators to improve their quality of service and create differentiation in services not only to retain their existing subscriber base but also to attract customers from other players. New operators are looking at MNP as an opportunity to wean away high-end customers cornered by incumbent players, especially in the post-paid segment. On the other hand, incumbent players are planning to leverage their pan-India network and reach to attract subscribers.
Industry watchers say that there could be a significant movement from CDMA network to GSM. MNP will also play a significant role in the 3G space as not all the operators have spectrum. So, a subscriber of a mobile operator which does not have 3G services may look to move to an operator who has.