New Delhi: The full mobile number portability (MNP), which kicked off today, will "empower people", increase competition among telecom operators and improve services, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Full MNP will enable subscribers to transfer their mobile numbers to any new city or locality across the country and use it as local number from today. So far, the facility was available only within a telecom circle or service area.
The national MNP service, the earlier deadline for which was May 3 but got extended by two months as service providers were not ready, will also allow subscribers to change their operators without changing their numbers.
"Full mobile number portability has started from today. If a person moves from one state to another, he can keep the number with him. I would like to tell this to people of our country that from today you are the owner of your mobile number and wherever you will go your number will go with you," Prasad said on the sidelines of a BSNL event.
All operators - Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Communications, Uninor, Videocon, MTS, Tata Docomo, state-run MTNL and BSNL - have announced the MNP roll out.
With this facility, a mobile subscriber will not have to pay roaming charges once the number gets transferred to another telecom circle or state under the scheme. It will be treated as local number of that area.
Roaming charges will apply, however, while travelling outside the new telecom circle or area.
A telecom circle in some cases is equivalent to size of a state like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab. In other cases, circle includes two of more states like MP circle includes Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.
Prasad said that this service will empower people and enhance competition among mobile service providers pushing them to offer better service.
"I decided in November to start this service in six months. It was to start in May but telecom operators sought some time. It was then decided to start service from today and I happy that it has started," Prasad said.
Meanwhile, private mobile operator Aircel today said it has rolled out country-wide mobile number portability in line with the government's dictate.
"Aircel today launched National Mobile Number Portability (NMNP) aligned to the government's mandate to roll-out the service from July 3, 2015," the company said in a statement.
"Aircel brings in maximum ease to the porting process of shifting from one telecom circle to the other. All that customers need to do is to present a Unique Porting Code (UPC) - easily generated by sending an SMS to the advised short code from any location - to their preferred Aircel retail outlet in order to enable NMNP," the company said.
The number of mobile users in the country was 97.33 crore at the end of April.