The mobile number portability (MNP) will be rolled out across India on January 20, 2011, according to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
The minister on Thursday rolled out the first phase of the MNP services from Rohtak in Haryana. Customers in Haryana now have the option of changing their service provider without changing their mobile numbers.
The consumer-friendly service was mooted over two years ago and was planned to be implemented by the end of 2009. However, implementation had to be deferred several times owing to reasons ranging from lack of preparedness of operators to delay in appointment of an agency to oversee MNP execution.
There are eight mobile operators in Haryana: Airtel, Idea Cellular, BSNL, Aircel, Loop, Vodafone, Etisalat and Videocon. For now, MNP will be allowed only within circles. The customer will have to pay a maximum of Rs. 19 to the new operator to change network and the new operator has the option to waive off the fee or reduce it. But the minimum stay period with one operator for consumer is three months. Both pre-paid and post-paid consumers can use MNP.
As per the eligibility criteria, there should not be any outstanding payment by way of pending bills before customers can apply for availing of MNP services, the Department of Telecom (DoT) said.
It also said that the mobile number sought to be ported should not be subjudice and also there should not be pending request for change of ownership of the mobile number.
The DoT has claimed that the entire process of switching operators would take a maximum of seven days and subscribers may face disruption of services for about two hours during that period.
"The maximum time period for porting would become seven working days except in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North East licensed service areas, wherein it would be 15 working days," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in a statement.
Switch by high spending, post-paid subscribers, business subscribers could start another round of price war among operators. High-end users make up 5 per cent of the total subscriber base but generate around 20 per cent of revenue.
A Nielsen survey pointed out that high-spending, postpaid subscribers and business subscribers are likely to show a greater tendency to switch if after the mobile number portability comes in. Pre-paid, low- and medium-spend users may not be motivated much to switch over.
Customers willing to exercise the option of changing their service provider without change of number will have to send an SMS from their phone to 1900.
Based on this, they will get a unique porting code as SMS from the existing service provider. The customer can then make an application in the prescribed form mentioning the code to the selected new service provider for porting of number. A period of seven days has been prescribed for completion of porting (transfer) of the mobile number to the network of the new service provider.
India has more than 700 million subscribers across the country with nearly 10 operators in each circle.
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