New Delhi: Mobile number portability (MNP) will safeguard the interest of subscribers in case new operators’ licences are cancelled for missing roll-out obligations or because the service providers were ineligible to bag start-up spectrum in the first place, a top DoT official has said.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued 119 showcause notices to various firms in connection with missing the deadline for rollout of 2G services and alleged suppression of information while applying for the licences.
“We are planning to launch the MNP nationwide by January 20. Once it comes, then consumers have options available even in a situation where some licencee or service provider loses his licence. Consumers can switch over without losing their numbers or services to other operators,” DoT secretary R Chandrasekhar told PTI.
Asked whether the launch of mobile number portability will take place as scheduled, he clarified that all operators will launch the service on time.
MNP is a service that allows subscribers to change their operators while retaining the same number.
Several new telecom operators are likely to cross the threshold limit of 104 weeks for roll-out of their services, which may prompt the DoT to issue showcause notices for cancellation of the licences soon.
The DoT is looking at licences issued by former telecom minister A Raja in January 2008, to various companies that have failed to roll-out their services as stipulated in the licence conditions.
As per the licence conditions, the licencees are required to roll out their services in 90% of the service area in metros and 10% in district headquarters within 12 months (52 weeks) from the date of award of licences.
Some of the new operators that were granted licences in 2008 have already missed the 52 weeks timeline. What is more, they have failed to complete the roll-out of services despite a 52 weeks extension being granted.
The telecom ministry had levied liquidated damages worth Rs218 crore on several new operators for missing the roll-out schedule. These operators have already paid over Rs105 crore.