The MNP Game; Has Fair Play Disappeared?

mobile_shopIt is quite hard for the 100 million plus cellular subscribers in Pakistan to not know what Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is. But for those who don’t, watch some cable television and be enlightened by the cellular operators across the border.

India, in 2010, finally pushed through the MNP feature among their 500 plus million cellular subscribers, energizing the competition in the market. Each operator in the country has spent the last quarter incorporating the technical and marketing strategies needed to deal with the porting of numbers among the industry players.

Portability of numbers has always brought about a high degree of relevance to the retention of customers, as changing your contact details remained the largest hindrance to a customer moving from an unsatisfied operator.

For the Pakistan industry, MNP was introduced in 2007 with great fanfare and at a significant cost to the cellular operators, with estimates from industry insiders pointing to the $100 million mark.

And while we all applauded this step, the failure to follow-up with standardized and reliant processes meant a nightmare experience for many who decided to make a transition to greener pastures.

There are countless stories of consumers being pinged and ponged between the offices of their current operator and the prospective one, as the information of the steps to port only trickled down to the frontline forces of the cellular operators.

More recently, the porting process has become a laborious and delayed task, where a consumer could end up without any services while the operators sort out when and how they wish to complete the requested process.

In fact, a 15-day delay is often the stated norm by service centers for all operators when approached with a number porting request, displaying a lack of empathy for the consumer. What beggars understanding is how the operators concluded a 4 day maximum timeline for the porting process, when establishing the Pakistan Mobile Number Database (Guarantee) Limited, also known as PMD.

It is often judged as unfair to compare the local results against international practices, but the telecommunication industry is a globalized sector that feeds off implementations in various environments across the world. So, with Ireland having a 2-hour porting process timeline and France having 30-day, Pakistani operators went from the top end of the scale to the median, for the best case scenarios.

Then there is the usage of ported numbers which leaves an odd taste for every user. Call someone who has had their number migrated and you are greeted with this loud shrill. The operators feel that the best way to let their users know that their friend has moved off the network is by giving your eardrum the worst wake-up call ever. Why not have the friend hear the shrill each time they call their former network, or maybe a hissing sound for betrayal or a wailing tone for the sadness of loss of revenue.

On the numbers front, the PMD has made no updates to reveal the effect for each cellular operator. While Telenor was proud to announce its 1 millionth MNP customer around March 2010, there was no statement on how many left it for one of the other 4 service providers.

The only data which ends up being reported is the Net Additions made by the operator, which is a sum of many variables. Also, operators are not comfortable openly projecting the number of users leaving their network, and would normally place port-outs in the Churn category of their reports, which includes dormant subscribers and those that do not fulfill certain qualifying criteria to be a part of the overall subscriber base.

However, analysts estimate over 3 million consumers to have availed the MNP facility in Pakistan since its introduction.

While the largest operator is commonly thought to be the one at the losing end of MNP, this has not appeared to be the case in the local market, where Mobilink has retained its top spot. However, there has been jostling among all in terms of services and prices, allowing the consumers to reap some reward. But operators still remain the king makers, applying every tactic to delay and avoid processing port-out requests, as subscriber numbers is the top metric for the industry.

To describe fair play on the MNP stage, there are examples from the developed world, where consumers can negotiate certain benefits like free minutes or SMS or discounts on monthly fees, once they are eligible to port-out from their contracts with current operators. This allows for consumers to seek further value for their money. Unfortunately, that level of understanding is not held by the local consumer yet, and the operators continue to remain the directors of the industry and its evolution.

MNP was supposed to bring a focus on more than just price; it was supposed to introduce a new avenue of competition in quality of service. However, with a regulator driven by fees instead of public sentiment, this feature appears to have failed in creating a level platform of competition for the local market.


  • All networks are involved in annoying customers when they try to MNP from one network to other, they make fake reasons for MNP request rejection etc

  • admin

    Arite, i don’t ve proofs, but i ve personally witnessed and off-the-record interviews with several agers which concurs that MNP is illegally used to boost sales, how? Read on!

    – Franchisee of a cellular company A will donate a certain number of connections to a franchisee of a cellular company B and vice versa. Both will get the sales and targets are met. Win-win situation for both. But customers suffer!

    Mostly, it is tried to MNP those connections which are long switched off. Numbers either not in use for over 3 months. In this situation chances of claims (from customer) become obsolete.

    BTW, in such situations, Ownerships and networks are changed without customer’s consent and proper documentation.

    Why Cellular companies not stopping this?

    – Franchisees get their margin from the cellular company.
    – Cellular companies get the numbers rolling, higher sales, higher stock value
    – Customers wont go to supreme court for this, they tackle them locally. so not a deal!

    – Win win situation for everyone.

  • I have been through this. and the Ufone is most corrupt in this matter. What you need to do is very simple go to your email box and compose an email to PTA and CC it to Ufone.. you will see the next day your number will be ported in without any delay. :)

    kehna tu bhot kuch chata hun par proPakitani.pk kay admin nay bahi dhamkey dey they… mei tu ab apnay jazbat ka izhar kertay be darta hun :P

    • admin

      Aizaz, app apnay jazbaat ka bharboor izhar karain lakain ikhlaaq kay dairay main reh kar : – )

      We enjoy your comments!!!

      • hahaha good one Admin…. love you :)

        • Admin bahi wasey apas key bat hai us din vo Android aur Java key comparison ka image kis akal-mand nay lagayee thi… !!! case hai Virtual Machine kay patents ko lay ker hai .toString() ka method to Object class ka hai java ka… bahi vo tu same hi hoga na…..

          yar wasey hans hans kar mere tidh (pait) mei peer(drad) ho gye thi… :)

          • admin

            Good that you had a laugh. We had carried it from engadget

            • Irfan

              and u carried the exact copy of that from engadget…. u blame certain newspapers or some sites for copy/paste from the net.. but even u did the same. if u did copy that, at least u should have pointed out the flaws in that post too. engadget is biased tech site i.e its pro-apple… and some of its articles are often full of flaws. u should consider such things incase of copy/ paste from other tech sites.

              • admin

                We had linked back to them, gave them the credit. We ask for the same!

  • pakistani

    haan ufone say mera number 1 mahinay k baad port hua tha telenor par
    aur telenor say zong par sirf 3 din main
    mobilink bhi buhut tang karti hai abhi bhi mera 1 number proces main hai mobilink to telenor par 5 din ho gaye hain..

  • Kashmiri

    did any1 know that
    people having sim registered to ajk region are denied mnp without any other answers given by franchise
    please run a story on this propakistani

    • Kashmiri

      they say there is no option to port ajk sims

  • Kashif

    Really? So weird! Admin should write about it.

  • Nauman Afzal

    @ Kashmiri , he is absolutely right, in AJK cellular network in being run by SCO, called as SCOM. They do not have any porting agreements with operators down country. And there is no porting system or mechanism in SCOM.
    About MNP, I got ported from Ufone to Warid and used to get Info service messages frequently till at least six months from Ufone, dunno hot it is technically possible. All complaints fell on deaf ears. Customer satisfaction and QoS is unheard of here in Pakiland.

  • Malik

    I got a Zong number from customer care office Al Bilal Resturant, Jhelum Cantt.
    After several contacts with Zong, Telenor and PTA, the responce is:
    You registered your number on website and got number of your own choice. So Zong gave you AJK series number.
    Now you cannot port out.
    No one listens. PTA and Zong are **********.

    I wasn’t told that I am being given a AJK series number.

  • Just wanted to share a fact .. I first ported my number in the US back in 2002. The process took < 4 hours, and I *may* have lost coverage for a couple of hours at max, maybe none.

  • ors

    I got my number ported a year ago from ufone to telenor. I applied in the morning and by evening my number had been porter (<12 hours).
    However, one inconveniece that I faced was that I was asked by Telenor personnel to go to Ufone office and get a hard copy of some WHT form because Ufone network was not responding to sms requests.