More delay in mobile number portability

Published: 10 November, 2010 07:01 IST | Bobby Anthony |

Implementation delayed till the end of the month; activists blame major telecom firms

Implementation delayed till the end of the month; activists blame major telecom firms

Despite Union Telecom Minister A Raja's announcement that Mobile Number Portability (MNP) would become operational from November 1, it seems to have been delayed yet again. 

 Department Of Telecom (DoT) official R Chandrashekhar told MiD DAY yesterday that MNP has effectively been postponed once again - from November 1, as announced earlier, to November 25.

"As of today (Tuesday), number portability has not yet been made operational. It will be operational only from November 25 in Haryana and may take some more time for the rest of the country," said Chandrashekhar. 

Chandrashekhar also confirmed that the Cellular Operators' Association Of India (COAI), the body of GSM-based telecom service providers, had suggested that MNP be introduced only in January 2011.

"If MNP is introduced, consumers will suffer as our networks may not be able to offer quality service. We have been ready to implement MNP for the past year, but only now when we are in a crucial period in terms of traffic growth, they want to introduce it," a GSM industry representative said.

However Chandrashekhar denied any further delay, saying, "Our official position still remains that number portability will become operational from November 25 onwards. Beyond that I cannot say anything".

Cellular conspiracy
Predictably, consumer activists have cried foul about the repeated delay in MNP implementation.

"The cellular operators' cartel is delaying this process so that they can continue overcharging consumers. This strategy also hits new telecom operators by denying them a competitive environment.

"By artificially creating a shortage of radio spectrum, the cartel is ensuring that newer players are not economically viable.

"The idea is to encourage mergers and acquisitions of newer operators so that these big sharks can swallow the newer companies," Achintya Mukherjee, honorary secretary of the Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA) told MiD DAY.

Officials of newer telecom companies like Etisalat and Uninor largely confirmed what Mukherjee, but refrained from coming on record.

"Clearly cartelisation is happening but I feel that DoT is enthusiastic and MNP will soon be a reality," said a senior official of a new telecom company, on condition of anonymity.

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