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Pay just Rs 19 for portability
MUMBAI, NOV 21 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 21 Nov. 2009 11:30 PM IST
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Come January 2010, consumers need to pay only Rs 19 and change their service provider, even as they retain the same mobile number. In a move that could intensify the stiff competition in the world’s fastest-growing telecom market and push call charges ever lower, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday said the porting charges for switching one’s mobile operator ‘cannot be more than Rs 19.’ The country is set to introduce mobile number portability (MNP) on December 31. MNP allows the subscribers to retain their existing mobile telephone number even as they move from one access provider to another. This move is irrespective of the mobile technology or from one cellular mobile technology to another of the same access provider, in a licensed service area. In other words, the consumer can switch from CDMA to GSM. The move is expected to increase competition among operators and act as a catalyst to improve their quality of service. Operators are free to levy any amount less than or equal to Rs 19, the regulator has said in a statement. The dipping charges, payable by an access provider or an international long distance operator to MNP service provider for dipping of each message, has been left to mutual negotiation between telecom service providers and respective MNP service providers, the statement added. MNP was initially planned to be launched in the country by October. According to the Trai guidelines, porting or switching a mobile number from the existing service provider to the new one should be completed within a maximum time period of four days. A shakeout is clearly indicated in the telecom field. The move is being looked at as one of opportunity for new licencees, which are clearly looking to connect with potential subscribers. Existing operators are also mulling the the opportunity to let go of those subscribers who are not profitable. Four new firms, including ventures of international telecom operators Telenor, Etisalat and Batelco, are set to start services in India this year, and MNP would clearly make it easier for them to lure existing subscribers, according to an analyst tracking the telecom sector. “The principal loss in any kind of number portability are the bigger players. The new ones, however, stand to gain tremendously,” the analyst said, adding, that around 2-3% of the consumers “are likely to port.” “Number portability intends to increase churn rates since it gives consumers the ability to change service providers without changing their mobile phone numbers,” said a senior official with a telecom firm, requesting anonymity. However, the official cautioned, “that the threat for operators is that regulators may use it as a tool to force tariffs down and create opportunities to license more operators.” MNP would “also lead to high implementation costs for the operators, including equipment costs.

 
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