Mobile Number Portability India Service Cost, Benefits, Problems, Availability, FAQ

In this resource, you can know how to change the mobile operator without changing the number using the Mobile Number Portability technology. You can read the benefits and the problems of Mobile Number Portability service in India. Also, you can know about the Mobile Number Portability service providers and Mobile Number Portability availability. This resource is a complete Mobile Number Portability guide and Mobile Number Portability FAQ.

What is Mobile Number Portability in India?

As of today, if you are in India, and you are having problems with your new Mobile phone service operator and want to change to another operator, you will have to change the mobile number as well! Changing the mobile number is a problem when you have a lot of contacts. You will have to inform all the people in your phonebook about your new number. In addition to this, since the person who you have sent the information may or may not have noted the change in your number, it would create a problem for him as well as you again! Mobile Number Portability is a technique to solve this problem.

Using Mobile Number Portability, you can change the operator without having to change your number. So if you are using a mobile number (say) 9876543210 for and are using the service from some operator (say Reliance) and you want to switch over to another operator, say BSNL, then you will not have the need to change the number. So when Mobile Number Portability in India comes to effect, you will have the ease of having the same number while using any operator's service you want. Mobile Number Portability in India will offer you the freedom to select the operator whose network and the features you like without having to think 100 times about informing the change in your mobile number to your hundreds of friends and contacts! While this seems to be a dream for some people, it will be a reality in few days in India.

How much will Mobile Number Portability cost?

There were predictions before the implementation and the official announcement that the service might cost you an arm and a leg, but that is all proven wrong. While it might cost millions for the network operators and the government, it will cost a mere Rs. 19 for you! Most of us, especially those who needed the service would call it a small charge as it gives them a big relaxation. You don't have to be locked in to the pathetic plans of one single operator even if you do not like it, just for the sake of the number. The finer point here is that Rs. 19 is the 'maximum' amount that a network operator can charge you with, so maybe some operator would charge you nothing (and that means 'free') for the switching! As we have got the news, BSNL is offering any customer converting to their service from another telecom operator a free switch over and some additional talktime as well. That seems to be a good deal. But there is always a catch in such offers. You will find the catch later in the article.

How to retain mobile number after changing the operator by using the Mobile Portability Service in India?

While Mobile Number Portability is a buzzword these days, the bigger question is on how to change your operator after the facility has been provided! So here are the steps:

1. Send an SMS containing 'PORT' (without the quotes and in capital letters) to 1900.
2. After sometime (almost immediately), you will receive your UPC (Unique porting Code) on your mobile via a SMS.
3. Now you need to do what you did before to get a new connection, i.e. to go to a shop, pay Rs. 19 (or whatever the new operator asks for; Rs. 19 is the maximum) plus any other charges, like for the new SIM (yes, you will have to get another SIM card) and submit your documents and you should be able to use the new connection.

What has not been made clear is whether or not that new SIM will be usable immediately or not, or even when it will be usable. Since a switchover can be required by the customer immediately, the operators may not be that fast!

How much time does it take to change the operator having same mobile number using Mobile Number Portability in India?

TRAI has said that operators should get it done within 4 days, it may vary due to many factors and the use of the old or new SIM is an issue as of now! For example, if both the old and the new operators are fast enough, it would be a matter of minutes. But if they work slow at their offices, Mobile Number Portability may take days to please you.

Mobile Number Portability in India FAQ

  • Question: Is it possible to retain the number but change the service from a CDMA operator to a GSM one?
    • Answer: Yes, this can be done and vice versa. However you will not be able to use the same phone! This is because the CDMA and the GSM technologies are different. While a CDMA phone is locked in to one operator and does not contain a SIM, a GSM phone does. So, if you are all set to change the service type from GSM to CDMA or vice versa, you will have to spend some additional bucks in getting a new phone.

  • Question: Is this possible to switch over from postpaid to prepaid and vice versa?
    • Answer: Yes, it is possible; and if you have paid attention of the offers by the telecom operators, then you might have notices that the telecom operators are always ready to change your service type from postpaid to prepaid without changing your number. The bigger deal with Mobile Number Portability is that you can have a different type of service with the new operator when changing the number.

  • Question: Is it possible to keep my current balance while changing Operators?
    • Answer: No, it is not possible. Since the plans and rates of different services vary for different operators, it was decided to not make this feature available to users. This is helpful to both customers and telecom operators.

  • Question: Can I change the operator for my postpaid connection even if the bill is pending?
    • Answer: No. You must clear the bill issued by the current operator and any other charges (if applicable). Only after the dues are clear will the old operator allow the new operator to take control of your number! TRAI understood that there might be chances that a person would like to change his operator as often as he can without paying his (possibly hefty) bill to the operator. This would mean loss for the operator. TRAI implemented this rule to protect the telecom operator from losses incurred by such events.

  • Question: How long will my mobile number remain disconnected while the switching takes place?
    • Answer: Although TRAI says that the process should not take more than 4 days, the actual disconnection of your mobile is expected to be about 2 hours in the night (between 10 PM to 5 AM) someday within those 4 days.

How does Mobile Number Portability in India work?

The process of switching the operator technically called as 'Recipient-led". It is so because the process of taking control of your number is done by the 'new' network operator you are switching to. (Technically the old network is called as the 'Donor' and the new network operator is called the 'Recipient' in the terminology of Mobile Number Portability). So after you have followed the procedure to change the operator, your new network will contact the old operator to get control of your mobile number.

After the old operator has confirmed that the switch has to take place, the new operator will contact the Mobile Number Portability service provider (read the next paragraph) and update the necessary information in the database. After this, the new operator will have to take care of your number and you will have successfully used Mobile Number Portability to your benefit.

How will the 'calls' work after Mobile Number Portability in India is implemented?

Mobile Number Portability requires another player in the telecom field (apart from you, your old operator and the new operator). We call this as the MNP operator. Traditionally, numbers are divided into groups or series according to the operator and the telecom circle they operate in. e.g. 9035XXXXXX series would belong to Tata Docomo in Karnataka. Each operator knows all those number series. So when you make a call, the operator will look at the number series and transfer your call to the respective operator and region accordingly. When you use MNP system, this method does not work because anyone can be using any operator!

Mobile Number Portability in India will use the MNP CDB (Central Database) service from two operators (we will mention their names later in the article). The CDB or the central database is the place where the information about which number is allotted to which operator in which zone is kept. When Mobile Number Portability is implemented in whole country, all the calls will be routed with the help of these MNP operators. After the implementation of Mobile Number Portability in India, when you call a number, the information about the operator and the telecom circle will be obtained from the CDB maintained by the MNP Service provider. After this information is received, the call will be forwarded to the respective operator in the telecom circle which was reported by the MNP Service provider. While it is so simple to read an overview, it is difficult to implement (as experts say), but that is a different story.

Future of Mobile Number Portability in India

The future seems to be bright for this technology in India. The reason for being so is that currently, according to the government statistics, about 68% of all mobile customers change their mobile phone number at least once in a year. When Mobile Number Portability in India is complete, the number will drop significantly and only those people will change the numbers who really want to disconnect the mobile service or want to become anonymous again. There are many people who have been waiting for Mobile Number Portability in India to become existent. Now, they will be able to choose the best plan and the operator without having to change the number. Since the number of such people is quite large, Indian government is expecting that Mobile Number Portability in India will receive a warm welcome from the users, when it arrives.

How frequently can you change the mobile operator using Mobile Number Portability in India?

There is a 90 day limit on changing mobile operator using Mobile Number Portability in India. Since the process of changing the operator is complicated and it is possible that people would like to do it every second week, TRAI has put a regulation that once the number has been switched over to another network, it will not be switched over again unless 90 days are over. This is to keep the huge amounts of data transaction, losses to the telecom operators and the chaos in limit which TRAI has foreseen in the Mobile Number Portability service.

Benefits of Mobile Number Portability in India

Benefits of Mobile Number Portability in India to users

Following are the benefits that Indian people will get after Mobile Number Portability is implemented in India:

  • People will not have to change the number for changing the operator: This is the core theme of this service and I hope I do not need to say much here.

  • One will not have to inform all the people in their phonebook about the operator change because this will not change the number anymore: When you change the operator, it is your personal matter from now and you need not tell anyone or let anyone know which telecom operator you are taking service from!

  • You can save money by having the best plan you like: while some people hardly leave the city they live in and want more features, others might travel a lot and need better signal reception. Mobile Number Portability allows both type of users to have the same number without having the additional headache.

  • Due to operators offering free talktime and data usage, there will also be monetary benefits to the users for short time: While there has been news that BSNL is offering talktime for free to those customers, people are waiting for the same or similar goodies from other operators.

  • Benefits of Mobile Number Portability in India to operators

    Perhaps it is the mobile operators and specially the 'new' mobile operators who will receive the most out of the Mobile Number Portability in India. Following are some of them:

  • Users can now change the operators more easily: Users do not change the operators due to the problem that they will have to change the number as well. With Mobile Number Portability in India, this will no longer be the reason for pulling back the new operators in a telecom circle.

  • Savings in expenses for reserving a number-series: Operators pay some price to reserve the number series in a telecom circle so that they can use the number series to create new mobile phone numbers. Due to the Mobile Number Portability, operators will no longer have to pay the price to reserve a specific number series in a particular zone, even if there are very few users using that series. This would mean cost savings.

  • Less struggle for newcomers: If an operator is entering a new telecom zone, he will not have to struggle for a (relatively) long time for getting enough number of users to keep itself in business. Usually, new telecom operators offer better price to value ratio for the customers. Before Mobile Number Portability, they had to wait for a significant time before they could get sufficient number of users to sustain their business. Since Mobile Number Portability offers users a relatively faster and easier way to change operator, it is expected that it will play a significant role in getting new operators a good number of customers.

  • Benefits of Mobile Number Portability in India to the Government

    When making this change to one of the most flourishing and competitive market in India, the government has surely taken care of their interest. Some of the benefits that government will get are:

  • More competition means more revenue: Mobile Number Portability will attract a lot of competition and that will invite even more companies from the outside than what already are. More competition will make the government hike the prices for the different series they offer to the telecom companies. Government is sure to get more duty from there!

  • More investment in market: Mobile Number Portability is sure to make the market more competitive. More competition will mean more trade on the shares and a better economy. It invites new opportunities of investment in different sectors specially technological sectors by the companies.

  • Direct benefit to BSNL: BSNL, a government company has been under loss due to the inability to change operators under many cases. Mobile Number Portability is expected to get a nice amount of revenue to BSNL due to the cheap rates and more coverage in all aspects from creating new Transceivers to offering the 3G services before any other operator, when compared to other companies. This is one the biggest points where GOI is expected to get more benefit compared to other private ventures.

  • Problem of Mobile Number Portability in India

    Problems of Mobile Number Portability in India to users

    While Mobile Number Portability is a great technology, it may cause a few problems to the users. They might be as follows:

  • The switching from one operator to another requires you to pay Rs. 19: Just like some say it, "Nothing comes for free". So you have to pay some charge to the new operator for using their service. It is expected that operators would ask you the maximum amount, Rs. 19 for changing to their service. While this is not certain, even the possibility of the same is a disadvantage.

  • You still have to follow the same old procedure of going to a shop, getting a new SIM and so on: If you thought that you would just send a SMS and you will change your operator which you are in the train, you are wrong. You still have to go to the shop and get a new SIM. So you cannot retain your old SIM (and all the phone numbers and messages stored in it). So we suggest, you get a habit of storing your contacts in your mobile phone memory instead, if you are going to use Mobile Number Portability service soon and again.

  • It takes time for the switch to take place: So if you want it to happen immediately, you cannot do it. Nothing is in your hands after you have started the process of changing the operator. One would have to wait for about 4 days for the switch to happen in the worst case. In the best case, it would still take about an hour.

  • Since it has not been made clear that when can a person use his new SIM card after applying to the new operator, it may cause problems to the users in some scenarios: Today you get a new SIM and start using the moment you buy it. This will not be possible since the new SIM you buy will not be active unless the number is transferred to the new operator, which may take time of the old operator is snail paced.

  • We cannot use this service to change the operators across telecom circles: Say you are a student who is going outside the state (and possibly the telecom circle as well), then you cannot keep the same number in the new state. In simpler words, assume that if a person living in Karnataka is shifting to Madhya Pradesh wants to retain his number, he will not be able to.

  • Problems of Mobile Number Portability in India to operators

    While the operators gain the most out of this service, they also lose it the most! Following are some of the things which make the matter complicated for the operators:

  • Technology change: Since Mobile Number Portability in India will ask the telecom operators to use a slightly different technique that what is already in use, they will have to invest in a newer (and perhaps even more costly) equipment to support Mobile Number Portability.

  • More competition with other companies: The competition between operators will become fierce as they can lose the customers anytime.

  • Underlying network changes: Changing the current call routing scheme (that is technical :D ) needs some readjustments in the networking within the operator's own network. This is challenging especially when they do not want the service to be disrupted which the technology is being changed under the hood. It would be like changing the engine of the car while it's running! This is certainly going to be a problem for the backend team of engineers who will do the real technical job here.

  • Problems of Mobile Number Portability in India for Government

    Once again, there are some quite new problems this technology will invite for the government when implemented. Some of them are:

  • More competition to BSNL: BSNL has always been infamous for providing poor quality service in India, specially in fields of reliability and speed. BSNL will face fierce competition in those places where new companies have come lately because in most cases, users are more comfortable with the private ventures, rather than BSNL.

  • Loss due to dropdown in number of mobile numbers: Since many people maintain two numbers just because they cannot change the operator who serves the number they have used till now, but want cheaper and better plans and features may remove the additional numbers, implementation of Mobile Number Portability in short, reduce the total number of mobile phone numbers from India and hence will the revenues from the companies drop. Not only this, the number of people change their mobiles will also get slightly reduced due to various related issues.

  • No More number series reservations: Since numbers can be reused and the 'mobile number series' aspect will be removed after Mobile Number Portability in India is implemented, government is sure to lose the revenue that came to it for the maintenance of those number series. (Note that this might not be entirely true but is very much expected to happen)

  • Things that are not clear about Mobile Number Portability in India

  • Many of the people had to discard their old numbers lately because their service provider (operator) ended their number series. (It happened with me, as well!) They would want to have those numbers again. It has still not been made clear by TRAI, if this will be possible or not and if yes, then how!

  • It has not been made clear about when will this come to effect in the respective regions. All that TRAI has said till now is that it will be in effect by end of January 2011.

  • Mobile number portability operators have not made clear about how much they would charge for this service and how long will they take to switch numbers.

  • Offers from companies are not open to the public yet.

  • When and where will Mobile Number Portability in India start?

    It has been reported that the Haryana Telecom circle in India is the first one to have implemented the mobile number portability technology and the rest of the country will get the same by end of January, 2011.

    Which service providers provide the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service in India?

    As we have said before, that the use of Mobile Number Portability service in India will require MNP service providers, it becomes a question – which company? Well, there is no single company here. The country has been divided into two zones as far as Mobile Number Portability is concerned. The first zone will be taken care of Syniverse, the other zone will be managed by Telcordia.

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    Author: Chharugh Konwar12 Dec 2010 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

    Hi Gyandeep,

    This resource of yours is brilliant and constitutes everything that people would look for about mobile number portability in India. But I feel that this resource is under-evaluated for Rs. 60. I do not understand the parameters which govern the approval and allotment of resources in ISC.

    Author: Hafeezur Rahman P23 Dec 2010 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

    Hi Gyandeep,

    Very nice post from you, after reading this I remember my previous employer who has foreign client and our employer used to work for MNP poject in India as a BPO, handling MNP process (or LNP (Local Number Portability) process is of same), we used to migrate (Number portable) from one service provider to another one within exact date/time using various online tools access provided to us, it was our work over there. Anyhow, your above detail on MNP brings back to remember about it.

    Congrats for quality post.

    Author: Satish Kumar Pranatharthyharan24 Dec 2010 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

    Hi Gyandeep,

    I am privileged to read one of such finest resources of yours in ISC. Though it was prepared for an competition entry, the spirit shown by you in the preparation and presentation is worth mentioning. As an individual, I have learned a lot from this resource about the contents and presentation etc.

    We need more good topics as competition in ISC so that we extract the best from you. Keep it up. My best wishes.

    Author: Pratik Mishra09 Mar 2011 Member Level: Silver   Points : 1

    thanku for aware with different issues of M.N.P, This is realy useful information.
    thnx one again

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