The nation’s telecom minister, Kapil Sibal has set February 2013 as the deadline for nationwide Mobile Number Portability (MNP), Times of India reports. He has assured that by this date, postpaid users in the country will be able to use their existing numbers, even if they have moved to another state. While the deadline has been set, there is no getting away from the fact that the task of setting up an infrastructure to manage the shift won't be easy. The report shares further that while at the moment there are two entities looking after MNP, officials have cleared that they have 'limited capacity and scaling up over the next two months may be a tough task'. 


Nationwide MNP for postpaid users (Image credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, Sibal also announced that MNP has been made a part of the department's agenda for the months leading to February. Sibal added that the other key initiatives that have sought completion by February 2013 include – approval of spectrum assignment and pricing, unified licences regime, M&A guidelines, finalisation of guidelines for spectrum sharing, creation of fund for R&D and manufacturing, including nationwide MNP. 

Mobile Number Portability became popular upon its grand launch because it gave subscribers a chance to move out of their existing service provider onto a new service provider without having to forego their number. With power in their hands, subscribers no longer found themselves tied to their existing providers, if they were unhappy with them. 

While the portability option received a thumbs up from the user community, instances of porting requests being rejected left a bitter taste with some. TRAI, for one, as mentioned earlier, has been highly vocal about their stance on MNP in India. For one, the TRAI declared that no donor operator could accept withdrawal or cancellation of porting requests, which it receives from a subscriber, either in a written form, or through an SMS or a voice call. The body further aimed to discourage the practice by announcing that such a practice is illegal, since there is no such provision. 

Recent reports mapping the performance of MNP in India, had found that there were just several instances, wherein operators were found rejecting subscriber requests for MNP. In fact, one of our reports in mid-December revealed that Bharti Airtel, reportedly rejected maximum number of porting requests – 893, followed by Vodafone (792), Idea Cellular (313), Reliance Communications (307), Tata Teleservices (149), and Loop (134).

The implementation of free roaming, strangely is conspicious by its absence in the telecom department’s current agenda. The topic was discussed over the past few weeks, and has piqued much interest. The nation's eagerly awaiting the implementation of free roaming – an introduction it believes will not give them bill scares when travelling within the country. Reports recently suggested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to ask operators to implement free roaming across the nation by March 2013. This bit of information comes in as the latest, after the telecom department announced its plans pertaining to free roaming earlier this year. The decision, however, hasn't met with support from mobile phone companies, who fear revenue losses once roaming charges are abolished – roaming charges account for roughly 10 percent of their revenues. They have warned that if they incur losses, they would be forced to increase the tariffs.

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