Mobile Number Portability – Game-changer! Or Game-changer? (Part 1)

Indian Mobile Service Providers


April 2004: A friend returned after spending almost a decade in the U.S. Of course, the initial adjustment wasn’t easy and a thousand small irritants drove him up the wall – lack of respect for punctuality, lack of civic sense, hygiene etc. From a consumer’s perspective, he also found that some businesses here weren’t as conscious about consumer satisfaction as he would have liked, among these the network providers that (he felt) took advantage of consumers that were tied to a network due to the lack of number portability. I remember him cursing the service provider and fervently wishing for number portability many times.

January 2011: Happy New Year! We finally have number portability.

But did this friend switch ? What do you think ?


Jan 2011: My dad was thrilled that he could now switch from Idea to another service provider without changing his number because he wasn’t happy about their blackberry services. He chose to switch to Vodafone. He inquired about the procedure within the first month and realized that it was a cumbersome procedure and took too long to process.

They told him it’d get activated in 2 months. 2 months!!! What was he supposed to do – have no mobile service for 2 months? Would he be allowed to be on Idea network till the Vodafone one got activated? No clue – neither party had any answer. Also, he was required to have zero credit with the current provider to be able to port – in theory this makes complete sense – but how could this be the case? Unless on Jan 31 2011, he paid off the bill for Idea, and had a working Vodafone connection on Feb 1– there was no way he could have zero credit with Idea (because there was no way he was going to be without any mobile service even for a day, leave alone a couple of months! That is just way too much to ask in this day and age). He inquired about how this would be possible – and again they had no answer!

Today: So, disappointed, he stuck to his Idea connection, and continues on in life, with MNP having made no change in his life. Bummer!

Anecdote 3:

Nov 2010: I’m a Vodafone user since the last 5 years. If I was asked in Nov 2010 whether I’d want to change my service provider, given number portability – I’d have said no, because I was happy with the connectivity and customer service then.

Nov 2011: If you ask me in Nov 2011 whether I’d want to change my service provider – I’d still say no, not because I am happy with the connectivity and network coverage anymore – but because I’ve come to believe that all other providers are equally good or bad. I have Airtel, Idea and Loop Mobile users within my home and none are happy with the connectivity and coverage either. (I take their opinion because we live, work, travel to and from the same routes and areas – and therefore find that their usage experience is applicable to me).

So even though number portability provides the means to address my dissatisfaction, lack of better service from other providers is stopping me from making the change.



Roshni Jhaveri



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