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Change your telco, but retain that number

As mobile number portability takes off, we guide you on what it means for all.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2010 21:04 IST
Manoj Gairola

Who should go for it?
If you think your service provider is not giving you the service you expect, you would be a prime candidate for change. But before you change, do check with existing subscribers of the new provider. Else, you’ll be left holding a new service provider without any benefit.

What is the cost of this change?
As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the cost should be less than Rs 19.

How will it help?
Currently, if you are dissatisfied with your service provider and want to shift to a new operator, you will have to change your number. But your current number is something that’s with all your friends and business associates, so you might not want to change it, particularly if you have had it for long. For some users, the telephone number is almost their identity.

When will mobile number portability (MNP) be implemented?
Number portability will be first launched in the Haryana circle on November 25. The Department of Telecommuni-cations wants it to be implemented throughout the country by December. However, incumbent mobile operators want more time. They want a deadline of January. So, in all probability, MNP will be implemented by January.

Why it has taken so long?
Old operators were against implementation of number portability as they feared their subscriber base would get eroded. So, they first wanted to achieve a critical mass and then have portability. However, the government has been serious on the issue for two years.
The deadline for number portability has been extended a number of times. The first deadline was December 2009. It was extended to March 2010 as operators were not ready for it. Later, it was further extended to June 30, 2010. When the networks were not technically ready for it even in June, the government extended the deadline to October 31. Then it was finally extended to Nov 25.

Who will be the main beneficieries among operators?
Right now, both the old and the new operators say they will benefit. Old operators — Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, BSNL and MTNL — claim they will benefit as their brand is well established and subscribers who have joined new operators will shift. New operators — Uninor, Sistema, Etisalat, Videocon and Loop — claim they have an advantage as they initiated a tariff war a few months ago and can further lower prices. They also claim that traffic in their network is low and hence quality of services is good.