Mobile Number Portability (MNP) has finally started in Pakistan during this week of March 2007. For background and history see my earlier posts on this topic.  Now the interesting battle to win and retain customers has started. In part 1 of the guide I’ll review how service providers and PTA have played their role in educating consumers and helping them through the transition. First a basic review of the process of MNP. After that a review of how service providers have conveyed MNP information on their web sites.

 1. Perform some basic checks for your number – such as: proof of ownership, no conflict due to existing agreement, number has been in service for at least 60 days etc.
2. Fill out a form and present it to the provider to which you wish to port.
3. Pay the porting fee (upto a few hundred rupees)
4. A Number Portability Request (NPR) is launched by your new provider (called Recipient Network) and you are given a SIM and a tentative time (at least 4 days – but could be up to 21 days) to when you can start to use new mobile provider network on this SIM.

I was hoping that PTA will provide a clear link to MNP guide on the MNP section of their web site but as of this writing I have not seen that (see my comments below for updates and see the PTA subscriber MNP Guideline). I am sure that very soon their will be some info posted there. But PTA really needs usability experts to imporve their site … despite all their hard work on getting MNP rolled out they did not update their site on time. In general it is not easy to get useful information from PTA site – see the cellular tariffs page for instance.

Mobilink provides a page on its site to help consumers move to its service!  As they put it: It is now very easy to become a part of Pakistan’s favourite cellular family. It is indeed ironic because as many readers of this blog have been quick to point, Mobilink stands to lose the most with MNP.

On Ufone’s site I was unable to find ANY information about MNP. What? I leave the comments to the readers.

Telenor presented a very well written guide and also provided a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ). Telenor has set the bar in terms of quality of information, clean design and a fast web site. Good job Telenor!

Warid’s site has also decent MNP FAQs, under customer service menu.  They could have made it more prominent. Overall Warid’s site has plenty of room for improvement.

This is the start of a new chapter in Pakistan’s telecommunication industry. I bet the call centers of mobile companies and the advertising agencies will be kept very busy in the next few weeks if not months. It will be interesting to see the competitive dynamics and the change in attention to customer service. I hope it will be worth all the investment.