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Mobile number portability to start today

New Delhi: If you’re tired of poor service from your current telecom service provider but have not switched to avoid changing your number, you don’t have to worry anymore. You can now leave your old service provider for a new one and keep the old number.

Dump your phone company. Move to a better one. But keep your present number. A total of 700 million Indians use cell phones. With mobile number portability kicking in on November 25, many customers, especially pre-paid ones, might abandon ship. Firms might offer better service but won’t drop prices any further.

“How far can you go? Will you give it away free? If that’s the next battlefront, God help us all,” said Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Rajan Mathews.

Here’s how you can shift. Send an SMS from your phone to 1900. Your present company will reply with a unique porting code. Use that code while filling out a detailed form for the company you want to shift to. Within 48 hours, that company will take over all your cell services. The fee charge may cost you about Rs 19.

Your cell number will be switched off for only one hour. All bills after that are paid to your new company. You’ll be stuck with them for at least 50 days before you can shift again, so choose with care. While you can shift from a GSM service to CDMA or vice versa, you cannot shift from one state to another.

“The circles don’t change. If you are in Karnataka, you are a Karnataka subscriber. If you shift from one state to another, roaming kicks in, just like it does right now,” said Rajan Mathews.

However, if you stay in Haryana, you can switch companies starting on November 25. Everyone else will have to wait till early next year (2011). The industry says it can cope with the huge data transfers, without compromising national security.

“If in case, the Government wants to track or monitor someone, there will be robust methods to do that. Anyone planning to misuse the system because of MNP is going to be sorely disappointed,” added Mathews.

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