Want to change that service provider, but keep your old mobile number? It will be possible in a year, with the government announcing a plan on Monday to introduce mobile number portability (MNP) in the four major metros — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
But it would cost you more to switch between operators. “The government has decided to introduce mobile number portability keeping in view the interest of customers,” Communications Minister A. Raja told reporters on Monday.
Number portability will be enabled by a neutral party which will maintain a common computerised database of numbers. “Mobile operators, through the third party, shall establish a logically centralised database. The cost of the database will be borne proportionately by each operator,” the Department of Telecommunications said in a statement.
Portability needs a complex set of back-end actions, covering areas including call delivery, billing, caller IDs, calling name presentation, order activation, roamer registration and support, customer service and SMS centres.
The customer would have to incur a higher fee for switching over to another operator while retaining a mobile number. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will decide the methodology of arriving at a tariff for portability. Mobile operators would have to upgrade their networks to enable portability.
Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani, and the Association of United Service Providers of India, the lobby group for CDMA operators, welcomed the move. “This is a forward-looking initiative. It is pro-competition, pro-consumer and above all pro-choice,” Ambani said.