New Delhi: Switching to another mobile phone operator is set to become a quicker process and operators will have fewer discretionary powers to scuttle a porting request, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s new rules (Trai) issued on Thursday.

Besides, the regulator has suggested imposing a penalty of 10,000 on telecom operators every time they provide false information regarding a mobile number porting request and for each wrongful rejection of a porting request.

Several small telcos, including Reliance Communications and Aircel, recently shut wireless operations, posing problems for many subscribers.

“ To make the porting process faster and convenient, for all the cases except corporate porting cases; in the revised process for validation of conditions and generation and delivery of unique porting code (UPC); it has been provisioned to establish a query response mechanism to enable the Mobile Number Portability Service Provider to query the database of the donor operator on real time basis," Trai said in the Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability (Seventh Amendment) Regulations, 2018, made public on Thursday.

For porting requests in the same telecom circle, the timeline has been set at two working days, while for requests to port numbers to another telecom circle, the timeline has been kept at four working days. Currently, a subscriber must stay with one operator for at least 90 days before switching to another. Previously, the maximum time that could be taken to facilitate porting was seven working days, except in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and the North-East, where it was 15 working days.

The validity of the unique porting code has been kept at four days in place of 15 earlier for all telecom circles except Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North East for which the validity of UPC remains unchanged.

For cases of corporate porting, the current limit of 50 numbers in a single authorisation letter has been enhanced to 100. Earlier, the porting request was processed without evaluation of the eligibility conditions, and the subscriber was told the reason of rejection only after four days.

However, under the new norms, the unique porting code will be generated only for mobile numbers that meet the eligibility criteria set by the regulator.

The industry will have six months to implement the changes after which the new regulations will come into force. Moreover, to tackle instances of technical errors, Trai will issue appropriate quality of service norms as well.

Trai had floated a consultation paper on the issue in April and announced draft norms in September.

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