Subscribers happy post-mobile number portability launch

January 20th, 2011 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) The customers are a happy lot post the nation-wide launch of mobile number portability (MNP) Thursday — a scheme that allows subscribers to switch operators without changing their existing number.”I am happy that the scheme is finally here. I have been using Idea for the past one year but I am facing problems like bad network. I am now planning to switch to Airtel due to its better network availability,” said 24-year-old Sanchit Gulati, a professional consultant.

MNP was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday, after being initially tested in Haryana.

India currently has over 700 million mobile phone users, making the network the largest in the world after China. The country has been adding 15-18 million new mobile phone connections to the network every month.

Ahead of the pan-India launch of the scheme, some companies had already started their advertising campaigns to woo dissatisfied customers of other networks. Idea Cellular was the first to start the campaign, followed by Vodafone.

Charanjeet Singh, who sells mobile phone sim cards in Sarojini Nagar, said: “Not many are aware of MNP. Some operators have started supplying advertising banners, but whether a customer switches will depend on the service provided.”

To avail the service, a customer will have to pay a maximum of Rs.19 to the new operator for ‘porting’ the number. The customer then has to remain with the new operator for at least three months.

The customer will have to send an SMS from the existing phone to 1900. Following this, a unique porting code will be sent by the existing provider. The customer will have to then file an application with the new service provider mentioning the code for transferring the connection.

Officials say the maximum waiting period fixed for porting a number is seven working days. But the number will remain out of service for just two hours.

Mehul Pithva from a Bangalore-based IT firm, however, thinks that service levels may not be much of a differentiator between companies post-MNP as all of them would try to sweet talk the customer from not switching.

“Subscribers will benefit only if MNP results in companies lowering tarrifs to attract people from other networks. And as users can still retain the number, most people I know would switch if it means paying less,” said Pithva.

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