So, your MNP request was rejected again? You are not alone

The much-touted mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced over a year ago in order to provide relief to subscribers from nuisances of their current service provider. However, the common experience so far is far from satisfactory. In fact there are a number of complaints about service providers rejecting MNP requests on frivolous grounds. While the telecom regulator is aware about the problems, service providers are hiding behind reasons, like India’s better porting rate and newness in the system.

JS Sarma, chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), while speaking at a recent seminar organised by the Bombay Telephone Users’ Association (BTUA), said, “The porting out rate (in India) is high compared to other nations. We will definitely have discussions with service providers on this issue.”

MNP, which allows a subscriber to change the operator while keeping the same number, was launched in India in November 2010. The initial euphoria for MNP was still there, its impact so far had been lacklustre and it may not be a game changer for the telecom industry.

While there is an increase in the number of requests for porting over the period, subscribers are still facing many issues like contractual obligations while going for an MNP facility.

Commenting on the issue, Vikram Tiwathia, associate director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), who was also present at the seminar said, “Look at the size of this country and number of mobile users. It is like putting MNP in entire Europe. There are 23 circles, so there are complexities and lot of time and effort is required to mature. COAI took a leading role in MNP implementation. Initially, there were lot of challenges from DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and TRAI but now things are working fine.”

Earlier, while speaking about the ‘contractual obligation’, which is used by service providers for rejecting MNP requests, Achintya Mukherjee, honorary secretary, Bombay Telephone Users’ Association (BTUA), had said, “In the contractual obligation there is always an ‘exit clause’, which they (the operators) can ask the subscriber to comply with and then allow him to port out. In our considered view, an individual consumer cannot be held on to a contract signed by a corporate body, even if that individual was a part of the common group.” (read… Are mobile operators deliberately rejecting MNP requests?)

Recently, TRAI had issued show-cause notices to telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, for violating MNP guidelines. On 24th May last year, the regulator had issued broad directions on contractual obligation which says telecom operators should not reject MNP request if the amount of subscriber due is less than Rs10. It also said that the MNP request can be rejected if the customer has a post-paid connection with bundled handset and the subscriber has not complied with the exit condition of the deal.

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