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Governance: Number portability coming to India




Say you are dis-satisfied with your current mobile provider, and would really like to change to another telecom operator who has a better plan, or a better coverage where you live / work, or your current operator is hopeless at customer relations; but you find that changing your number would be a big hassle because of the fact that your number would change and that is a pain. Telling assorted friends and family about your changed number could be a big problem and a lot of effort and frankly, you continue to live with your current operator because of this headache of number changing.
For some time now, there has been talk in the air about bringing number portability into India. This is a global concept where once you have a phone number in a country, you can retain the number even when you change your operator. Once operators know that you can retain your number and yet change the telecom provider, they tend to be more customer friendly, avoiding excess charges and making sure that they present their best foot to customers. This is one reason why telecom operators in India have been resisting such a measure since they know it would force them to be more customer-friendly. But now it looks like India will get the number portability system next year:

After sitting on a proposal for more than two years, the department of telecom on Monday decided to introduce number portability for mobile services. This means that if you are unhappy with your service provider but have been unable to shift to another because it would mean changing your phone number, you will now be able to switch while retaining the same number.
The move, long demanded by those who wanted a truly competitive telecom market, should see service providers going the extra mile to ensure their customers stay satisfied and hence loyal to them. According to telecom minister A Raja, the facility will be launched in the four metros — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai — to begin with. However, he did not specify exactly when this would happen.
Full number portability allows users to retain their telephone numbers not just when they change service providers. They can also retain the number when they are switching service types — say, from mobile to fixed line — or when changing locations — say, from Delhi to Mumbai or vice versa. The portability envisaged by Raja, however, will only allow wireless number portability.

There will be a lot of talk about how this is going to benefit only one operator or another, but such a measure actually benefits the consumer as it frees him / her to be able to select the operator that seems the best; in that sense it forces operators to be more customer-friendly and have telecom plans that benefit the customer the most (and maybe hit their profits). So, for example, if near your location, the coverage of an operator is not good and you miss calls, you can now easily change your operator.




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