ROHTAK: Communications minister Kapil Sibal launched the eagerly-awaited mobile number portability scheme in Haryana on Thursday to allow cellphone users to change their operators while retaining existing numbers.
"On Jan 20 next year, mobile number portability will be available nationwide," Sibal said at a function to launch this scheme from this town that is a part of the Haryana telecom circle.
To demonstrate the launch, the minister made the first call from a "ported" mobile phone to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The operator, according to officials here, was changed from a state-run company to Idea Cellular.
"The maximum time for porting would become seven working days except in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and North East service areas, wherein it would be 15 working days," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in a statement.
Haryana has a total of eight operators including Airtel, Idea Cellular, state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Aircel, Loop, Vodafone, Etisalat and Videocon.
The customers will have to pay a maximum of Rs.19 to the new operator for porting his number. However the minimum stay period for a customer to retain the new operator will be three months.
They will have to send an SMS from their phone to 1900. Based on this, they will get a unique porting code from the existing provider. The customer has to fill an application mentioning the code to the selected new service provider for transferring the number.
According to the Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India, the maximum waiting period for porting would be seven working days. However the numbers of the customers will remain out of service just for two hours.
Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekar said the scheme will result in a major benefit to the customer. "MNP will ensure vibrant competition, lower tariff and improved services to maintain healthy competition."
The scheme has been delayed several times. Initially, it was to be implemented by Dec 31, 2009 in all the metros along with the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The deadline was changed to March 31, 2010 and then to June 30. But the June 30 deadline was again deferred as operators were not ready with the infrastructure to provide the service, officials said.(IANS)