Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday launched nationwide mobile number portability (MNP), a move that will allow users to switch operators without losing their phone numbers.
Customers will have to pay a maximum of Rs 19 to an operator to change their network and the new operator has the option to either waive the fee or reduce it. However, a consumer would be required to continue with an operator for a minimum period of three months in order to avail the MNP service.
Mobile number portability will compel the operators to improve the quality of their mobile services, as they would not like to lose their customers to rivals.
MNP services were first launched in Haryana in November last year. Nevertheless, companies like Idea Cellular and Vodafone started marketing the service to subscribers in other parts of the country even before the nationwide roll-out took place.
Idea Cellular, which started the 'No idea? Get Idea' campaign to woo subscribers of rival telcos, has also set up a toll-free line to assist customers looking to switch operators.
More operators are expected to undertake similar activities to maintain their user base, with competition likely to heat up following the nationwide roll-out of MNP services as telcos look to poach their rivals' subscribers.