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Pan-India mobile number portability from Jan 20

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DoT expects tariffs to fall further.

MNP launch:The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Telecommunications and IT, Mr Kapil Sibal (left), and the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, at the launch of mobile number portability services at Rohtak in Haryana on Thursday.
MNP launch:The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Telecommunications and IT, Mr Kapil Sibal (left), and the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, at the launch of mobile number portability services at Rohtak in Haryana on Thursday.

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Nov. 25

The Communications and IT Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, on Thursday said that Mobile Number Portability will be launched in the entire country on January 20, 2011.

The service, which allows subscribers to retain their phone numbers while changing their operator, was launched at Rohtak, Haryana, on Thursday by the Minister.

Mr R. Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Telecom, said that MNP will intensify the competition among service providers both in respect of quantity of services and quality of service as well as in terms of tariff.

Mobile operators said that they are working with the DoT to put the system in place over the next two months.

‘unified effort'

Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Chairman, Cellular Operators Association of India, and CEO of Bharti Airtel, said, “In spite of the complex Indian telecom market, the MNP has been successfully implemented by the unified effort of the Ministry of Communications, TRAI and the telecom industry.”

Mr Sanjeev Aga, Vice-Chairperson, COAI, and Managing Director of Idea Cellular, said that MNP will provide unprecedented freedom of choice, maximise customer satisfaction and allow service providers to showcase their brand value.

Operators said that this would remove the last major obstacle to the freedom of choice by consumers and would promote fair and effective competition in the market.

Tata Teleservices spokesperson said, “We have been in favour of the introduction of Mobile Number Portability for years now and welcome its implementation by the authorities.

“TTSL has always believed that the power of choice should be given to the customer, and that subscribers should be allowed to own their number and choose their service provider on the basis of network and service quality. Our networks, both on the GSM and CDMA platforms, have been MNP-ready for years now, and we look forward to the new regime.”

Operator loyalty

An analyst, however, said that the low-end consumers may not gain from MNP. A study done by LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based ICT policy and regulation think-tank, revealed that 26 per cent of Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) mobile subscribers in India said that they would definitely not consider switching even to a cheaper package, indicating that there is some kind of operator loyalty.

Ms Tahani Iqbal, Research Fellow, LIRNEasia said, “Social networks are important for the BOP segment and this will limit the movement from one network to another; BOP users are more likely to just purchase a new SIM to avail themselves of better services.”

Related Stories:
Mobile Number Portability now just an SMS away
Preparing for mobile portability
Mobile number portability put off till Nov 25
Regulator, DoT differ on number portability

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 26, 2010)
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