(A site on Indian Telecom)
Number Movable: What's holding it up?
March 14 : Mobile number portability is useful when switching from one service provider to another; and when switching from one location to another, which could be problematic if the original service provider does not have a footprint in the area to which the subscriber proposes to move.
A number of technical and cost sharing problems need to be sorted out before introducing mobile number portability between one service provider and another.
Which is why we will need to wait at least another year. `Off-switch' solutions involve store all or ported mobile numbers in centralised external databases that all network switches can query when trying to reach the dialled number. Alternatively, distributed or multiple external data bases could be set up with, say, each separate data base comprising only all or ported numbers from a particular service provider.
A consortium of network operators would be required to manage/coordinate such databases, unless the task is outsourced to a third party. In the case of internal databases, call forwarding, in which incoming calls are directly routed by the old to the new service provider on an ongoing basis, is the simplest. The more complex, but for the service provider more hassle-free, method is `call drop back' under which a service provider responds to incoming calls by simply providing feedback that allows the originator to reroute calls to the new service provider.
To design efficient, simple, secure and practical porting procedures, issues that need to be addressed include: change and costs of change of SIM cards and/or handsets, authenticating the identity of customers requesting a port, communication arrangements between service providers during porting, and procedures for handling a large number of porting requests in a reasonable time.
Three sorts of costs are associated with the introduction of mobile number portability: system set-up costs, costs of conveyance of calls to ported numbers, and administration costs such as those incurred in closing/opening accounts and coordination between service providers in switching over of mobile numbers and routing calls.
The TRAI Consultation Paper 7/2005 concludes with two additional points: (a) Users find it desirable to predict the price of calls, and porting numbers should not undermine this capability. While costs may change, predictability of costs should not. One suggestion thrown out by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), for what it is worth, is that `tariff transparency can be achieved by the use of recorded announcements at the start of each call.'
(b) Should one-time and ongoing costs of switching to mobile number portability be `recoverable from the tariffs set up by the operators or treated as customer acquisition costs incurred in the hope of capturing more customers'? And, arising from this, should this decision be taken by the regulator or left to individual service providers?
Reliance Info's 40 paise offer
Mumbai, March 13 : Reliance Infocomm said it has extended its One Nation (Re 1 STD) plan, tweaking it to offer 40 paise-a-minute Reliance-to-Reliance STD calls on specific postpaid and prepaid schemes. This 40 paise offer (and the Re 1 per minute STD calls to all other phones) is available on the postpaid Reliance `India One 399' scheme and also on the prepaid Rs 1,100 voucher, said a statement from the company. On the postpaid India One 299 scheme as well as on all other prepaid schemes, Reliance to Reliance intra-circle calls will cost 40 paise a minute and STD calls to any phone Re 1 a minute. On certain other postpaid schemes, STD charges to non-Reliance phones have been cut to 75 paise a minute.
Mobile operators to share infrastructure
New Delhi , March 13
In a move that would bring down set-up costs, cellular operators today agreed to share infrastructure. This was decided during a meeting between the telecom service providers and the Communication and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran.
The infrastructure sharing would begin in Delhi and then in Mumbai, after which the model will be replicated in other parts of the country. A working group under a Joint Secretary in the Department of Telecom will work out the modalities of the infrastructure sharing.
BSNL cut ISD rates; NEW DELHI, MAR 8 (PTI) : Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited today slashed international long distance call rates to Rs six a minute, with 10 seconds pulse, for users opting One India tariff plan. In new tariffs, ISD rates to the US would be Rs 6 per minute (10 second pulse) against the rate of Rs 7.20 per minute under other plans. In a like manner, the rates for Europe (other than UK), Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong will now be Rs 8 a minute with 7.5 second pulse as against the existing Rs 9.60 a minute.
TRAI says `end differential tariff'
New Delhi , Feb. 27 : The TRAI has asked mobile service providers in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh not to have higher tariffs for calls made to BSNL subscribers.
The move comes after consumers complained to TRAI that some of the private mobile operators in the four States had specified a higher tariff for calls terminating in the mobile networks of BSNL and MTNL.