The January deadline has been clearly missed, and consumers looking to shift between telecom operators without changing their number will have to wait until April. This is mainly because public sector telecom service providers say they are not prepared.
Mobile number portability (MNP) is expected to improve the quality of services because operators will be under pressure to serve customers, many of whom resist switching operarators for fear of disruptions that happen with contacts when one changes a contact number.
Government sources said that in a recent review by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), it was found that at least five operators were not yet ready with the technical preparedness to implement MNP.
These include public sector Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). The others are at various stages of implementing MNP.
TRAI chairman J. S. Sarma declined to comment on the issue while a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official was terse. “I do not think that MNP would be implemented in this financial year,” is all he would say.
“We have to follow the PSU rules and regulations to procure equipment for MNP and this is a time-consuming process. Therefore, it was not possible for us to enable our network for MNP,” said R. S. P. Sinha, chairman and MD of MTNL.
The two companies have informed the DoT about this delay. BSNL has even sought a budgetary support of Rs 1,000 crore to implement MNP.
The government had earlier announced a deadline of December 31, 2009, for implementation of MNP in metros and leading ‘Category A’ circles and March 20, 2010 for rest of the country.