BANGALORE, INDIA: Will abolition of mobile roaming charges pave way for a pan-India mobile portability service?
This is one question that has been unanswered till now, though communications minister Kapil Sibal has stated that the new National Telecom Policy-2012 would abolish roaming charges.
Though the government feels abolition of roaming charges is an absolute necessity to ensure affordable services, telecom providers haven't spoken anything against it in the open.
Right now, customers can port between prepaid and postpaid options within a particular telecom circle. The master database is managed by a third party firm. For zone I (northern and western regions), Syniverse will handle the MNP related issues while for zone II (south and east), it is Telcordia.
Most telecom operators were not forthcoming to talk on the possibility of pan-India MNP when CIOL contacted them for their comments. Many of them cited it as an industry issue which is yet to be decided.
Naveen Mishra, lead telecom analyst, Cyber Media Research, said though the telecom minister has thrown light on few important changes that the new National Telecom Policy 2012 would bring, there is no clarity on all aspects as of date.
MNP (Mobile Number Portability) across circles will be possible in case MNP services are launched across India. "Once MNP is launched across India, there will be no boundaries for MNP services," said Ajay Srivastava, CIO, Spice Mobility Ltd.
According to a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India statement, 41.88 million subscribers had submitted MNP requests till March-end with 4.76 million requests made in that month alone.
The maximum number of requests had been received from Karnataka with 4.53 million requests followed by Andhra Pradesh at 3.99 million, Gujarat (3.88 million) and Rajasthan with 3.7 million.
The rollout of MNP service has seen new operators who offer attractive tariffs attracting more customers while bigger operators have not been so lucky.
The MNP rollout has also been a cause of headache for few operators as some of them have been dragged to courts for allegedly violating MNP regulations.
In March 2012, a Delhi court had summoned top executives of Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Loop Mobile on a TRAI complaint that sought prosecution of the accused firms for rejecting subscribers’ requests for MNP.