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“I love deadlines, I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by” – TRAI on MNP

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Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director general Rajan S Mathews has said that telecom operators are likely to miss the pan-India Mobile Number Portability (MNP) deadline of 3 May 2015, reports TOI. Earlier in January, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had drafted a paper with an amendment which would allow users to change operators across the country while retaining their phone number.

Another report in the ET mentioned that it would take operators 6 months to roll out the full MNP system after the DoT accepted the recommendations. The current MNP allows users to change mobile networks keeping their number only in the same telecom circle while a full MNP would work across the nation.

Telecom providers’ committee for testing

Mathews mentioned that from COAI’s previous experience, the COAI had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to form a committee among telecom operators to coordinate the full MNP roll out. The telecom operators committee would carry out testing and take a final call after the meeting after which they’d be able to make the MNP arrangements. However, some network testing and routing issues were still at play and needed sorting out. He added that the committee hadn’t met as yet.

Are BSNL and MTNL MNP-ready?

Since there was a delay in the TRAI issuing the final guidelines, the telcos needed time to work on the guidelines to make changes in the network. The COAI was working on those guidelines and testing but a delay should be expected. Mathews mentioned that they needed to be certain that public sector company networks like BSNL and MTNL would be ready to facilitate full MNP.

Note that the TRAI had previously recommended pan-India inter circle mobile number portability (MNP) within six months in September 2013, which did not happen. Similarly in December 2012, telecom minister Kapil Sibal had announced that nationwide mobile number portability will be implemented in the country by February 2013, which also did not happen.

As of November 2014, India had a total mobile connection base of 937.05 million out of which 824.42 million were active. In the same month, 3.63 million connections requested to be ported, a number which was up 19.52% from 3.04 million porting requests in October 2014.

Image Credit: Flickr user Bopuc

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