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Telecom Regulator Floats Paper On Porting Costs

The telecoms regulator plans to review the per-port transaction charge and related ancillary levies for mobile number portability (MNP) at a time when monthly porting requests are falling, post-sector consolidation.

When a mobile user moves from one service provider to another, the recipient telco pays a per-port transaction charge to the MNP service provider for processing porting requests. The per-port transaction charge was reduced from Rs 19 to Rs 4 by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January 2018.

“Porting data for the last one year shows the number of port requests per month is declining, and the Authority may review and modify the per-port transaction charge at the end of one year,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in its discussion paper issued.

Accordingly, TRAI has sought industry views on whether per-port transaction charge should be computed by the regulator using its current methodology, or whether there should be a change. It has urged stakeholders to suggest an alternate methodology, with detailed calculations, in the event they want a change in the formula.

Last year, the two companies that deliver MNP services in India — MNP Interconnection Telecom Solutions and Syniverse Technologies — had written to the telecom department (DoT) that the near-80 percent reduction in per-port transaction fee since January 2018 had led to daily losses and would force them to shut services once licence terms ended in March 2019.

“The issue of review of per-port transaction charges was raised by some stakeholders during the consultation on Draft Telecommunication MNP (Seventh Amendment) Regulations, 2018, and the Authority had said that its review would be notified separately after consultation with all stakeholders,” TRAI said in its discussion paper.

The regulator said the role of MNP service providers had changed following amendments in the porting drill, which now requires them to incur “fresh capex/opex in additional hardware, storage, software and even develop/maintain a web portal” offering real-time public information on the progress of porting requests.

Separately, the regulator has also sought industry views on whether porting charges – the fee a mobile user pays for switching from one operator to another should be “prescribed as a ceiling charge” as is the current practice. In the event, the industry wants a review, TRAI has suggested that they come up with an alternate methodology for computing porting charges as well.―Telecom Tiger

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