Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh is to formally announce the nationwide launch of mobile number portability (MNP) today, with the country’s mobile users finally gaining access to the service after a number of delays to its introduction. According to India’s Economic Times, telecom minister Kapil Sibal said of the development: ‘I think it’s a great step forward for the consumer, as it enhances choice and brings in more competition, because the more efficient you are as a service provider, the more likely that consumers will choose you.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in November 2010 mobile subscribers in the Haryana circle became the first in the country to be offered the option of switching to another provider while retaining the same number with MNP launched in just that region at that date. Despite the geographic restriction, and keen to gain an advantage on their rivals, a number of cellcos including Idea Cellular and Vodafone Essar have been running country-wide marketing campaigns in advance of today’s service launch.
For those subscribers that do choose to port their numbers it will cost INR19 (USD0.41), with the maximum time for the switchover set as seven days by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); the exceptions to this are the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Assam and North East circles, where porting will take up to 15 days. The only restriction is that customers can only change operator without changing number within their current service area, but the facility is open to both pre- and post-paid customers. Anyone taking advantage of the new service will be required to stay with their new provider for a minimum of three months.
Initial demand for MNP has, however, been slow, with the TRAI reporting that less than 1% of customers in Haryana switched operators in the first two months following introduction of the service.