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Now switch mobile phone operator, but keep your number

Thursday January 20, 2011 07:34:18 PM, IANS

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At last, Govt. launches mobile number portability in India

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal launched the eagerly-awaited mobile number portability scheme in Haryana Thursday to allow cellphone users to change their operators while retaining existing numbers.    »

Vodafone launches ad campaign on mobile number portability

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday unveiled a new scheme that permits mobile phone users to change their service providers without having to forgo their numbers in what in industry jargon is called mobile number portability.

The service, which was initially launched in Haryana is being taken nationwide in a bid to ensure that people dissatisfied with the quality of service of the existing telecom providers are given a choice while being able to retain their phone numbers.

The prime minister launched the scheme by making the first call from a ported number to Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, at the Vigyan Bhavan official convention centre here also attended by two ministers of state -- Sachin Pilot and Gurudas Kamat.

"It is believed that mobile number portability, besides enabling a subscriber to change operators without losing his or her original number will also trigger competition," said the prime minister.

"The telecom service provider will seek to improve the range and quality of their services in order to retain their existing subscribers. This should further spur the growth of the Indian telecom sector," he added.

India currently has over 700 million mobile phone users, making the network the largest in the world after China but ahead of the US. The country has been adding 15-18 million new mobile phone connections to the network every month.

"This service is a boon to the customer. From our point of view we consider the mobile number portability as a positive step," said Mahesh Prasad, president for marketing in the wireless business of Reliance Communications.

Ahead of the pan-India launch of the scheme, some companies had already started their advertising campaigns to woo dissatisfied customers from other networks. Idea Cellular was the first to start the campaign, followed by Vodafone recently.

The scheme was delayed several times in the past. Initially, it was to be implemented by Dec 31, 2009, in all the metros along with Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The deadline was changed to March 31, 2010, and then to June 30 and subsequently again to Oct 31. But these were again deferred as operators were not ready with the infrastructure to provide the service.

On Nov 25, finally, the scheme was launched in Haryana and Minister Sibal said it would be made a pan-India offer from Jan 20.

"Overall, my hope and expectation is of improved service level, features, and customer service: simply because now there is more choice, with mobile number portability making it easier for the customer to exercise it," said Prasanto K. Roy, chief editor, Dataquest.

To avail of the service, a customer will have to pay a maximum of Rs.19 to the new operator for "porting" the numbers. The customer then has to remain with the new operator for at least three months.

The customer has to send an SMS from the existing phone to 1900. Based on this, a unique porting code will be sent by existing provider. The customer has to file an application then with the new service provider mentioning the code for transferring the connection.

Officials said the maximum waiting period fixed for porting is seven working days. But the number will remain out of service for just two hours.

The technology is widely prevalent in most parts of Europe and North America, as also in countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.








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