Monday, June 11, 2012

MNP - Mobile Number Porting experiences

Starting last year, Indians could change their mobile service providers without changing their mobile numbers. I had been a happy Airtel customer for around nine years, so I thought I need not port my number. But then a series of events made me change my mind. Airtel started asking me for ID proof documents repeatedly over a period of months, even after the ID proof documents were submitted. Tata Docomo had some nice plans and some of my colleagues shifted to Docomo. So, I ported my number from Airtel to Docomo.

That first port went off without a hitch. The only issue was, Tata Docomo had poor connectivity near the Planetarium, and no signal inside the building. This was clearly not acceptable, so I had to port again.  I thought I would give Vodafone a try, since Airtel was so ornery about my ID proof. For the mandatory 3 month waiting period between ports, I had to set up call forwarding so that calls to my number would be forwarded to my secondary mobile whenever the first one was out of range, ie. I was inside the building. Thus, I came to port my number for the second time, Tata Docomo to Vodafone.

Vodafone had coverage at the places I wanted, but.... no conference calling for pre-paid customers in AP! Also, the network quality was not as good, with voice drops etc, and the need to go to the lobby to answer calls to get a better signal. So I had to port again, especially since call conferencing is so much a requirement for me. Running out of options, I was going back to Airtel.

But now the porting process did not go smoothly. Each time a port request is made, the incumbent service provider calls up the customer to try to persuade him not to leave. The Vodafone rep gave me false information, that conference calling has been enabled "just last week". Still, I said I wish to port. But the porting did not happen. My local dealer, who was doing all the SIM card work for me, told me that this had happened to two other customers of his also, when they ported away from Vodafone - the Vodafone rep denies the porting request saying, "Customer cancelled port request"!

On the dealer's advice, tried another port request, with the same SIM, without submitting fresh documents. That did not go through. Calls to Airtel customer care indicated that the port was "in process", meaning that documents were awaited. Each of these port requests took two weeks, with a wait time of 7 days for the port to work under normal conditions, and a two week wait for a fresh porting code.

So, tried a port once again, with the same SIM, but with one more copy of ID proof documents. This time, the port went through. The Voda SIM stopped connecting to the Voda network, inserting the Airtel SIM connected to Airtel network. But.... no outgoing calls, and incoming calls were getting the message, "This number is blocked."

The dealer said that it would be resolved in one day. But since this is not normal behaviour, I called up Airtel customer care. The first level support agent said, "Everything is fine at our end". But I was not able to recharge, not able to get or make calls! So, I asked the call to be escalated. Second level support said, "Please call 123 (customer service IVR) and set your language preference there, that should solve the issue". And it did! So, finally, I am back with Airtel, which has a superior network in this part of the world.

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