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68 lakh mobile users not been able to port numbers

At least 68 lakh mobile subscribers have not been able to port their numbers to their desired telecom operators since the nationwide launch of the mobile number portability with much fanfare on January 20 last year.

Sanjay Singh | January 11, 2012 | Updated 10:02 IST

At least 68 lakh mobile subscribers have not been able to port their numbers to their desired telecom operators since telecom minister Kapil Sibal announced the nationwide launch of the mobile number portability (MNP) with much fanfare on January 20 last year.

Based on the data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) the government had told Parliament last month that 1.9 crore subscribers had successfully ported till November 30, 2011.

However, the government had then not informed Parliament that it had in fact, received a total of 2.58 crore requests for porting of which only 1.9 crore porting requests were processed and cleared for porting till November 30, 2011.

Given these figures, telecom operators (which includes all Indian telcos) have rejected over 25 per cent (68 lakh) of the total porting requests (2.58 crore) till November 30, 2011.

MNP allows mobile subscribers to retain their phone numbers even as they change their operators. However, hapless subscribers have been at the receiving end of powerful telcos who have been either not processing their requests or are simply cancelling their porting requests.

In the absence of a weak regulator, and the operators hardly answerable to anyone, subscribers are being harassed no end.

When asked Trai chairman J.S. Sarma told Mail Today that the rejections were higher in the beginning but later it has come down. "Large numbers of subscribers are porting out. Things have been improving now. We have already initiated action against the erring operators," claimed Sarma.

"I am a post-paid subscriber of Bharti AirTel and I have been regularly generating several UPC codes as my porting request has been turned down thrice. It seems to be an endless wait for me as I have not been able to get my number ported for over two months now," said Aseem Manchanda, a Delhi-based subscriber. Operators have been denying porting to many subscribers on one pretext or the other including of those who have dues of a few paise.

From the point of view of the operators, post-paid subscribers are largely high net worth though they comprise less than four percent of the total mobile subscribers in India. As a result, operators try to stonewall their porting requests.

The Trai has largely remained a mute spectator and has been ineffective in initiating action against the mighty operators. Late last year, Sarma had promised to take legal action against Bharti Airtel for violating the MNP guidelines. However, there has been no action forthcoming from the Trai yet in this regard and subscribers' concerns remain unaddressed.

Bharti AirTel had maximum number of complaints , 893, for rejecting porting requests followed by Vodafone at 792 and Idea Cellular at 313. However, Trai officials admit that these figures are far below the real numbers as majority of the complaints are either not registered or are not forwarded by the concerned operators.

Courtesy: Mail Today 

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