The telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has suggested certain changes to "mobile number portability (MNP)" rules in the wake of increasing SIM-swap frauds.

MNP is the facility that allows a subscriber to retain his mobile number when (s)he moves from one access provider to another, irrespective of the mobile technology.

TRAI issued the Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulations, 2009 (8 of 2009) on September 23, 2009, laying down the framework for the implementation of intracircle MNP in India. Started officially in November 2010, the facility was launched fully in July 2015.

In its latest draft telecommunication MNP (ninth amendment) Regulations, 2023, for stakeholders' comments, TRAI has sought inputs on issues like the introduction of an “additional criterion for rejection of the request for allocation of unique porting code (UPC) on a mobile connection, which has undergone the process of SIM swap or replacement or upgradation”.

If the authority decides to introduce this new criterion, the MNP Regulations, 2009, will be amended via amendment rules, says TRAI.

Stakeholders have also been asked to share inputs to the generation of the UPC code, at an appropriate stage. In this, the demographic details of the subscriber like name, gender, date of birth photograph, etc., or scanned copy of the customer application form (CAF)/digital CAF may be transferred from donor operator to recipient via electronic means.

“The recipient operator should match the subscriber's demographic details with those received from the donor operator. If the subscriber’s demographic details match, then only further steps in the MNP process may be allowed otherwise, the porting process may be terminated,” says TRAI.

The said proposal of DoT was deliberated in a meeting with the wireless access providers and Mobile Number Portability Service Providers (MNPSPs) at TRAI, New Delhi, on May 22, 2023.

“Most of the wireless access providers and MNPSPs opined, inter-alia, that barring of porting of any mobile connection for a few days after SIM swap/ replacement/ upgradation by way of an additional criterion for rejection of the request for allocation of UPC may help mitigate the problem of fraudulent porting to a certain extent,” says TRAI.

The regulator has sought written comments on these suggestions from stakeholders by October 25, 2023. DoT, through its letter dated 27th September 2022 had found that mobile connections are being “fraudulently” ported out by the criminals by using SIM swaps.

Later it requested TRAI to make provisions in the MNP framework such that if a mobile connection has undergone the process of SIM replacement, then MNP should not be applicable for 10 days.

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