Aug 2, 2008

India - Mobile Number Portability gets nod

New Delhi, Aug 1 Mobile subscribers will soon be able to change their operator without changing their phone number. Despite opposition from operators, the Minister of Communication, Mr A. Raja, has announced the introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in phases. Starting with the four metros, the facility will be implemented across the country in a year.

MNP will provide the customer the facility to retain the same number while switching over from one operator to another within the same service area. A recent study pointed out that having to give up their mobile numbers was the single most reason that subscribers did not want to change their operator despite poor quality of services. The move to introduce MNP will now force cellular operators to offer better quality of services in order to keep the churn rate low. Number portability will benefit the new mobile operators, who can hope to take away some of the subscribers from the existing operators, without having to change the users phone number.

Four zones

As per the guidelines outlined on Friday, the country will be divided into two zones consisting of 11 circles areas each. A MNP service provider will be put in place for each zone, which will run the system by setting up a clearing house and a database of subscribers who change their operator. The two service providers will be selected through a bidding process. Existing telecom players will not be allowed to be a MNP service provider. Companies like Telcordia, Tekelec, Nortel and Syniverse may bid for the MNP service provider licence.

GSM operators, who had earlier raised objections to the introduction of the facility, said that they will co-operate with the Government. Earlier, the Cellular Operators Association of India had said that MNP was being introduced to favour a few new players since it was then proposed to roll out the facility only in Metro areas. “However, since the Government has decided to introduce MNP across the country within the time frame of 12 months, we have no objections to implementing this,” said Mr T.V. Ramachandran, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India.

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