New Delhi: Ushering in next-generation reform of the telecom sector, mobile subscribers will be able to change service providers while retaining phone numbers from 25 November.
To begin with, the concept of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), which allows subscribers to change operators while retaining the same number, will be introduced in Haryana. It will be extended to other circles in the next few months.
Operators’ networks are ready and have been tested fully. Applications from subscribers will be accepted from 25 November, sources in the Department of Telecom (DoT) said, adding that the government will come out with detailed guidelines and advertisements in this regard in the first week of this month.
This would force all the operators to offer quality services to retain their subscribers.
Some experts said the introduction of MNP services could be a game-changer in the telecom sector.
Mobile tariffs in India are the lowest in the world and new operators, who have relatively empty networks, claim to be in a position to offer the latest and best quality services to subscribers that are upset with their current service providers.
This could put pressure on leading and established mobile operators to announce new schemes to retain their subscribers.
With nearly 700 telecom subscribers in the country, even a small percentage of users opting for a change in service provider could dent large operators’ profitability.
While no study is available on how many subscribers are looking for a change in service provider, telecom analysts feel it may not be more than 10% at any given time.
Telecom operators’ lobbies have been derailing the implementation of MNP on some pretext or the other. The leading operators had said that number portability should be implemented across all types of services and should not be restricted to just mobile services.
The government, however, said it can be done step by step and opted to first make number portability mandatory for mobile services.
The date for implementation was missed thrice, as operators’ networks were not ready.