India is likely to have pan-India mobile number portability from Friday, according to telecom industry sources.
“Most of the glitches have been overcome, and all operators have implemented the technical changes,” said an industry source.
The Department of Telecom had given a two month extension from May 3 — the last deadline — for the implementation of the feature.
Once pan-India mobile number portability or MNP is implemented, mobile users can keep their phone numbers for their entire lifetime.
India had implemented limited (area-wise) MNP more than five years ago. However, under the scheme, customers had to port to another operator within the state, and could not move the number to an operator in another circle.
With Pan-India mobile number portability, that restriction will be removed.
The introduction of pan-India MNP is feared by many operators who believe that they will lose roaming revenue.
BSNL, the government-owned mobile operator, has already announced the removal of roaming charges as a precaution against loss of subscribers.
For example, if BSNL did not remove roaming charges, a BSNL subscriber from Chennai who moved to Bangalore would be forced to go for MNP. At this point, there is a chance that he could consider moving to another operator, instead of staying with BSNL.
With the removal of roaming charges, BSNL subscribers can continue to use their phone numbers without having to go via pan-India MNP route.
Other operators are yet to introduce similar features, as they fear that doing so will hit their roaming revenue.
The government has been trying to get operators to implement the technical changes required to implement this feature for a year. However, operators have blamed various factors for not being able to put the necessary infrastructure.
The facility was supposed to have been in place by March 31. Because of operators complaining that they could not implement it in time, the Government postponed it to May 3.
However, operators were not ready on May 3 either, and the government again postponed pan-India MNP by two months – or to July 3, or Friday.
Meanwhile, operators have implemented one of the key requirements for nationwide MNP to be a success – routing of calls without using the prefix ‘0’.
The prefix ‘0’ was being used to indicate whether the call was being made to someone within the license area or outside it (within India.) Currently, it is possibly to call anyone within India without using 0 as a prefix, indicating that the routing stumbling block has been removed.