The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is looking to make mobile number porting easier for subscribers by bringing down the porting period to two working days. Once this is in place, telecom operators will have to issue a unique porting code (UPC) – which enables the subscriber to transfer an existing mobile number to another operator – in a maximum of two working days. Currently, the code must be generated in a maximum of seven working days in most parts of the country, and up to 15 days in the North-East Indian states and Jammu and Kashmir.
Furthermore, a subscriber must remain a subscriber of the existing operator for a minimum of 90 days before a porting request can be considered. Certain other criteria must be fulfilled in order to process a porting request, including the clearing of dues by the subscriber. TRAI aims to make it as easy as possible for users to retain their mobile number even if they switch operators, a step that will go a long way in keeping the competitive nature of the mobile services industry in India.
Currently, operators tend to harass users looking to port out, since it’s a loss of a customer and the gain of a competing operator. Thus, the donor operator (the company giving the particular mobile number away) will try to create hassles for the customer. TRAI is also looking to put a stop to this, by creating a simple check-list for eligibility of porting, that will consist of yes-no questions. The process will also be automated to a certain extent, thus making it easier to generate the UPC.
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Mobile number portability was introduced in India in 2011, and has since been used to ensure that even if a customer chooses to end their relationship with a particular operator, they can still retain their mobile number when transferring services to a different operator. MNP has become even more important in recent months, as various operators such as Aircel and Reliance Communications have shut down operations,creating problems for their erstwhile customers in retaining their numbers when switching to a new operator.