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Tuesday, Nov 09, 2004

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Lack of number portability a major concern: TRAI official

Ambar Singh Roy

Jamshedpur , Nov. 8

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is seized of the problem pertaining to the lack of number portability in India and is likely to circulate a consultation paper in this regard within the next few months, according to Mr S.N. Gupta, Advisor (Converged Networks), TRAI.

Responding to questions from participants at the National IT Seminar 2004 organised here on Sunday by XLRI, Jamshedpur, Mr Gupta elaborated upon number portability and said it allows a customer to retain one telephone number across different networks that are managed by different service providers.

To have number portability, telecom service providers need to invest heavily in storage capacity.

"Technologically, it is possible to have number portability, but it involves huge costs. However, we are working on it. We wish to have number portability in the domestic sector first before we can think of number portability at the global level," he said.

Earlier, Mr Gupta made a presentation on IT in telecommunications vertical and said TRAI was "technology neutral" and telecom service providers were free to adopt the kind of technology they wished.

The idea was to ensure that the ultimate benefit goes to the consumer. He said STD rates would continue to go down on account of technology.

Speaking at the session that was focused on IT in telecommunications vertical, Mr Probal Kumar Bhattacharjya, Principal Consultant of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said IT must be deployed for maximisation of revenue, network rationalisation, SMS-based query service and business and operational support systems.

However, all technology would be rendered meaningless unless it facilitates quality of service for the masses, he said.

According to Mr Tarun Kumar, Head (Enterprise Business Support Systems) of Reliance Telecom, deployment of technology has no business value on its own unless it is closely integrated with processes.

He spoke of the experience of Reliance Infocomm and said the company's services would be extended to 5,000 towns and cities soon. At present, Reliance Infocomm's services are available at around 1,100 towns and cities.

The company has around nine million customers and has achieved cash break-even in the first year of operations, he said.

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