TRAI Issues Fresh MNP Directive

It has been over four months since mobile number portability was launched in India. However, Trai is unimpressed with the implementation of MNP by operators, and is reportedly looking for compliance to its new directive on MNP within 10 days.

The latest controversy with MNP is with regard to telcos denying customer MNP requests on unreasonable grounds, like an outstanding bill with the current operator of less than Rs 10, leading to a host of customer complaints. Thus, while Trai had initially told operators not to entertain MNP requests of subscribers harboring an outstanding bill with their current operator, the telecom authority has now ordered telecom operators not to reject porting requests if outstanding bills amount to less than Rs 10.

In a statement, Trai said, Trai is of the opinion that rejection of a porting request for a small amount such as Rs 0.13, Rs 0.70, Rs 1.50 is against the spirit of the regulation, especially when the service provider has liberty to adjust the said outstanding amount in the next bill. Such rejection is neither in the interest of subscribers nor in the interest of service providers as for collection of such a small amount the operator has to spend a far higher amount.”

While 10 million subscribers have opted for MNP  till date, Vodafone is the biggest gainer in MNP. According to a March report by COAI, Vodafone added over 50,000 customers, followed by Idea which added 0.18 percent net additions to their total subscriber base, Bharti Airtel which added 0.10 percent net additions to its subscriber base. Seeking to retain their lead position, Vodafone has fully integrated its fixed line network and revised its billing system to ensure that porting customers from other networks will be charged according to Vodafone’s billing system – thus integrating its fixed line network with MNP..

On the other hand, RCom, which fared the worst in MNP, losing more than 350 thousand subscribers, followed closely only by state-run BSNL and MTNL, said in a recent interview that it was not aggrieved by the number loss, and instead it would rather concentrate on adding value.  

The much-awaited MNP has indeed failed to make impact on the Indian market thus far. The chief reason for this is an extremely price-sensitive Indian market with falling ARPUs, despite all operators competing to offer the world’s lowest tariffs, which is thanks to India having the fastest growing competition globally, in terms of service providers. Another reason is poor network quality that attractive VAS services cannot make up for. Once these two issues are settled, perhaps MNP will start being as effective in India as it was in international markets.

By Beryl M

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