After four long delays, the reasons for MNP to finally be implemented in October are strong. MTNL has already given a $1.76 million MNP contract to Tekelec. While BSNL issued contract in April.
In a statement announcing the new deadline, Department of Telecommunication (DoT) said “The government has taken the decision after reviewing the readiness of the various access/international long distance service providers and keeping in view the complexity and enormity of the testing involved before MNP is implemented.”
Way back in 2003 the USA was the first country in the world to launch MNP to enhance the mobile service industry in the country. Now India is on the same track, but is facing roadblocks because of repeated postponement.
As and when MNP is implemented, it will facilitate the user to alter his mobile service provider, without losing the original number.
MTNL and BSNL were the cause of the delay as they had not implemented its MNP gateway. Finally, though, BSNL issued orders for gateway implementation in April.
Kuldeep Goyal, chairman and managing director, BSNL, said, "We will be able to meet this revised deadline."
On its part, MTNL has also assured that its gateway will be ready in a month’s time. “We have ordered for the gateway and we are waiting for the software to come. We would meet the new deadline of October 31, to implement the service,” said MTNL chairman and managing director Kuldip Singh.
MTNL said in an official statement that it has given a $1.76 million (or more than Rs eight crore) MNP contract to Tekelec. The contract has to be implemented in 16 weeks from the date on which it was made; it must be tested and delivered on site within eight weeks from the date of issue of the order.
Another bit of good news is that since orders for the roll out have already been placed by BSNL and MTNL, and it's now upto the vendor to install and test the gateway, implementation of MNP is expected to be completed on time, as the terms of the contract penalises vendors for delay.
On the other hand, all the 13 private operators had already rolled out the gateways. However, most of them have not yet tested them, which is an important step in implementation. However, the deadline is still four months away and there is enough time for these operators to complete the testing.
It is expected that MNP will bring about a lot of churn as customer who have till now shied away from switching mobile service providers (since a number becomes a persons identity), will switch operators for better services or tariff plans.
Some analysts feel that private operators have prevented the timely roll out of MNP by delaying testing on purpose as they fear this churn. The fear of MNP is so great that operators are planning to use expensive 3G spectrum to augment their voice services so that quality of service doesn't become a reason for customers to change their operator.
But DoT seems to be getting tough on operators regarding MNP implementation by openly criticising operators for the delay.
However, more than private operators it's public sector companies who have caused the delay and there are two plausible reasons for that: Both public sector units MTNL and BSNL have been steadily losing customers to private operators and the second reason is their bureaucratic procedures, the latter reason being stronger.
Let’s hope that consumers are lucky this fourth time round and that MPN brings about a positive change in the Indian telecom ecosystem.
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