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CDMA, GSM face-off over number change

Bs Reporter  |  Mumbai 

The CDMA and GSM operators in the country are at loggerheads once again, this time over the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP).
The CDMA operators' body, the Association of United Service Providers of India (Auspi), has welcomed the initiative while the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), which represents GSM service providers, has called it a "misplaced priority."
AUSPI, in a letter to Minister A Raja, has supported the initiative, which allows a subscriber to shift to an operator of his choice while retaining the number.
"Number portability is an important and effective tool to ensure competition in the services market as this will help increase competition and quality of service," said AUSPI Secretary-General SC Khanna.
At present, there is no incentive for the service providers to improve quality other than the benchmarks set by the regulator, the Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Number portability would motivate the operators to improve quality to retain and add subscribers, he said, adding, "AUSPI will fully support the government's endeavour."
COAI Director-General TV Ramachandran differed. "Implementation of MNP is a misplaced priority as there are many other issues that need to be looked at to improve telephony penetration in the country."
Teledensity in the country is low, with 50 per cent of the area and 40 per cent of the population not covered by the service providers. To connect the unconnected, the operators needed to invest around Rs 50,000 crore per year, he said.
The GSM operators were "not afraid of MNP," which would only help the association's members increase market share, Ramachandran said. He said 75 per cent subscribers in India used the GSM network and MNP would only increase this.
Minister for Communications and IT A Raja had yesterday said the ministry was looking at implementing MNP.

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First Published: Fri, August 24 2007. 00:00 IST
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