DoT nod for full MNP, broadband network for panchayats by 2017

Long pending mobile phone number portability across the country will be reality soon with a high level official panel on Friday approved that allows customers to retain numbers even after switching operator or location.

The Telecom Commission meeting chaired by Department of Telecom Secretary M F Farooqui has given in-principle approval to full mobile number portability (MNP). Now the decision will be sent to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for additional information and clarification. Followed by this, the Union Cabinet will take a final decision on when to implement the MNP, a government official said.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will seek additional details from regulator TRAI on issues like bank guarantees and clarification on number of players to be involved. Full MNP will allow mobile users to retain their phone number even while shifting from one state to another. 

For example, if an Airtel user in Delhi shifts to Vodafone in Chennai, he/she can retain the same Delhi phone number. At present, subscribers are allowed to change their service providers while retaining same number within a circle only. 

Optical fibre network

The Commission also approved the revised strategy for implementation of Rs 20,000-crore National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project to connect 2.5 lakh village panchayats with an extended deadline of March, 2017.

The project was earlier proposed to be completed by September, 2015. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had formed a special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited for managing this project. 

Three public sector units —BSNL, Powergrid and RailTel — have 60 per cent stake in BBNL and government 40 per cent. Till date, optical fibre cable (OFC) laid in the country is 10 lakh kilometres (km). Under the project, an estimated six lakh kilometer fibres are required.

The panel also approved the long-pending crucial project of installing mobile towers in Naxal-hit nine states and improve telecom infrastructure in north east region states.  

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