Finally, the nationwide Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was launched on 3 July. With both private and state-run mobile operators announcing their preparedness, the mobile subscribers can now retain their existing mobile phone numbers even while moving between states and circles. The Department of Telecom (DoT) had fixed 3 July as the deadline for a rollout of MNP after postponing the 3-May deadline to ensure that the telecom operators become well-prepared for implementation.
While Vodafone India said that the “customers will be the biggest gainers” of the National MNP service, Airtel said that it will process requests for porting within its network in 24 hours. The prepaid users, while porting their number, can transfer their balance. Those with postpaid connection can carry forward their unbilled or billed amount. Similarly, Tata Docomo has assured a completely seamless porting experience to its customers.
Reasons That Caused Delay in MNP Implementation
- Necessary technical changes needed to be made in the networks of the service providers for implementing full MNP are still a work in progress. The change in the National Numbering Plan was not finalised.
- Final testing of the process by the operators required eight weeks to complete. Various complexities arising out of the first stage of testing also caused the delay.
- The Department of Telecom had asked operators to allow their subscribers to dial on to mobile numbers within a circle as well as inter-circle without any prefix like ‘0’ or ‘+91’. This would require certain technical rejig by the service providers.
- Until now, each number was locked within a circle. For example, if an Airtel subscriber from Delhi uses the number in Mumbai it would be treated as a roaming service under the system. All the operators had to modify their systems to implement full MNP.
- Major challenges were anticipated in ground level implementations of MNP. The process involved over 10 operators and 22 circles with over 900 million connections.
- Telecom service providers had to make an investment of Rs 200-300 crore to upgrade their networks and install new equipment for implementation of full mobile number portability.
Concerns of Service Providers and Subscribers
The service providers do have apprehensions of losing subscribers to rivals companies with better networks and lower tariffs in specific regions. Pan-India portability comes with additional features as a part of the porting process. There’s a caveat for postpaid customers.They have to ensure that they have cleared all the dues as per the last bill, or else, the donor operator can raise a disconnection request to the recipient operator for non-payment of outstanding bills.