January 26, 2011
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), as well as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), today swung into action in response to growing complaints from subscribers that they were finding it difficult to switch operators under the new mobile number portability (MNP) scheme.
Consumers can retain their mobile number but change to a new operator, under MNP. It is estimated 125,000 to 150,000 subscribers have already made such a request since MNP was launched across the country last week
DoT’s Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cell today sent notices to all operators, with a warning to comply or face stiff action. “Many instances of non-compliance and violations are being brought to the notice of the TERM Cell by customers. The conditions laid down by DoT and Trai regarding MNP are to be followed in letter and spirit. Any instance of violation of these may lead to penalty and other strict action as DoT may deem fit to take,” the notice said.
Trai decided to send experts to six of the top operators to check if the delays faced by consumers in switching their operators under MNP was due to technical issues or done deliberately. “We will get a clear understanding by the weekend,” said a senior Trai official.
Mobile subscribers who want to avail the MNP facility have to send a message to 1900, which will generate a UPC (unique porting code) number. With this UPC, the customers have to fill in a form with the service provider they wish to move to. DoT has received many complaints from customers that operators are not generating the UPC number, a must for accessing MNP.
“Under no condition is the SMS to 1900 for UPC generation to be treated differently. It has been reported that a few telecom service providers are resorting to a regret message like ‘Sorry customer, please try after some time’, ‘Dear customer, please wait for some time’ and subsequently ‘Try to contact customer for retention’. This type of practice is not to be resorted to,” the notice said.
Some operators from where customers wished to shift, after sending the UPC, were rejecting the application, saying the UPC was not correct, though it was the same number sent to the subscriber. If a SMS is received on 1900, it is to be responded with the UPC, the department added.“Most companies that we checked have got about 50,000 to 100,000 customers who have requested for the code number in the last few days. However, about 30 per cent of them have not taken the next step of making a request for change after they get a call from their current operator,” says a senior executive of a leading telecom company.