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Mobile number portability is finally here

If you have felt let down or under-serviced by your mobile phone operator but haven't switched to a new one because you could loose your mobile number, help will soon come to you. The Department of Telecommunications has mandated number portability among mobile phone operators in India, to be first introduced in the four metros, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, by fourth quarter of 2008. In simple words, you will now be able to change your mobile operator and at the same time retain your old mobile phone number. No more contacting all your friends, family, relations, business / work associates to inform them about your new phone number.

As expected, the move was delayed on account of the opposition coming from GSM players. Popular GSM players in India are Vodafone and Airtel, among many others. They fear losing lakhs of subscribers to new and upcoming players, especially CDMA players like Reliance. However, justice seems to be prevailed and the customer will finally start to benefit.

Of late, thousands of users like me have observed a drop in service quality of few of these GSM players. I have been using Vodafone (erstwhile Hutch) for over six years. Of late, connectivity and even its quality is a major problem. I get inside buildings and the connectivity reduces; i can't hear the other person talking. Airtel was fined in January in 2007 because of unsolicited calls. My neighbour uses Airtel and he too is unhappy with its service. It keeps sending him spam messages.

Number portability would force errant mobile phone operators to pull up their socks and ensure that they do not take their customers for granted.

I only wish that number portability should eventually enable customers to not only switch between mobile operators, but also among fixed line services and between fixed and mobile phone operators.

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