Consumers may be flooding the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and other organizations with complaints about Mobile Number Portability (MNP), but the TRAI is yet to impose even a single fine on a telecom operator in this regard.
According to a statement by the Department of Telecom, the TRAI has never imposed a fine on any company for failure to carry out its duties under India’s MNP rules. India introduced Mobile Number Portability in early 2011.
“Under these regulations, till date no penalty / fine have been imposed on any of the service providers by TRAI,” the DoT said.
That is in contrast to the large number of MNP-related complaints raised by consumers almost since day 1. A search for MNP on consumercomplaints.in, a database of consumer grievances, throws up over 1,000 results.
Most complaints are regarding delays in getting the porting done. One of the biggest issues has been that the host operator does not supply the subscriber with a porting code, known as the UPC.
Without the code, which is supposed to be provided immediately after the consumer sends an SMS to 1900, a subscriber simply cannot leave his network for another. Some operators routinely say that their servers were overloaded etc. to justify the non-availability of the UPC.
“I am sending a MNP request to 1900 but not receiving a response at all from 1901,” says a complaint from user ‘ravi1226’ on the portal.
“I have sent it almost 6-7 times. When I sent a wrong number to 1900, I immediately got a response saying the number I sent is wrong. This looks to be deliberate and not correct in not giving customers choices to go for,” he adds.
Sometimes, even if the UPC is generated, delays continue to occur, as the case of Vamsi Netha illustrates.
A loyal CDMA user for eight years, Netha decided to shift to the GSM services of the same operator.
However, to his horror, not only was his CDMA number disconnected, his GSM number was not activated – leaving him ‘numberless’.
He made the request on 31-December, 2012 and was still not done with the shift as of 15 January this year, when he made the complaint. Generally, the entire MNP process is completed in one week and services can be disrupted only for two hours.
“I have no communication with my family/ business due to which I lost few business and had problems with family (mentally and financially effected),” he said.
“Today 15-Jan-2013, some executive approaches (after sending a long email *** …) now they say that they cannot help now … and it would delay for more 5 days,” he adds.
Many other complaints relate to illegal rejection of porting requests by operators on grounds such as ‘dues pending’, ‘corporate connection’ etc..
For a while, the TRAI itself was being flooded with such complaints. So much so, that the regulator thought it fit to create a new website just for registering consumer complaints.
In addition, faced with the continuing reports of delays and negligence from the part of the operators, it tightened the rules in September last year. Under the new rules, operators would be forced to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 for rejecting porting requests without sufficient reason, and Rs 5,000 for delays.