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Telcos-DoT meet today to decide on portability
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After missing several deadlines for launching mobile number portability (MNP), all mobile phone firms will meet officials from the telecom department on Monday to take a final call on this issue.

The meet will also determine if the country can meet its latest October 31 deadline for rolling out this facility, which allows cellphone customers to retain their mobile numbers while changing the service provider.

During Monday’s meeting, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is also likely to spell out stringent measures, including financial penalties it plans to impose if mobile phone firms further delay the implementation of this facility, an official aware of the development told ET.

This is because DoT has found that telcos have completed only 20.75% and 1.4% of the requisite testing required for intra-circle and inter-circle networks, respectively, for rolling out these services, the official added. All tests were slated to be completed by December-end 2009 so that customers could avail of this facility from January this year.

Despite all efforts of DoT, MNP in India may be a non-starter as the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) had rejected the proposal of US-based Telcordia Technologies, one of the two companies chosen to implement this technology here.

ET had first reported last month that FIPB, the government agency that clears all major investment proposals coming to India, had rejected Telcordia’s proposal on security grounds after the home ministry refused to grant its approval for the deal in its current format.

The FIPB had deliberated on Telcordia’s proposal for over eight months and had deferred it several times due to objections raised by the home ministry — one, the company’s presence in Pakistan and another the little experience its minority shareholders had in telecom.

FIPB’s rejection of Telcordia’s proposal implies that the October 31 deadline is unlikely to be met, implying that 650 million mobile phone users may not be able to enjoy the facility this calendar year. Syniverse is the other company that has been selected to implement MNP in India.

DoT has asked the industry lobbies representing private operators , COAI and AUSPI, to submit revised figures as to how much testing has been completed on their networks during Monday’s meet.

This is because these industry lobbies had told the telecom department that 82% of the testing had been completed or was in progress, while the department’s independent analysis revealed that the figure is only around 56%, officials with direct knowledge of the development added.

ET
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