Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology A. Raja on Friday said number portability, which should have been in place by March would be available by May. To start with, the facility would be offered in Chennai and Bangalore, he added.

Speaking after launching the 3G (third generation) GSM mobile services of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. for Karnataka Circle here, Mr. Raja said the facility could not be offered by March owing to some security aspects involving overseas manufacturers of equipment.

As far as 3G services were concerned, Mr. Raja said he took a political decision to allow at least the state-run BSNL to offer the service as auctioning of the 3G spectrum was in limbo.

Taking credit for the substantial reduction in telecom tariff over the last two years, Mr. Raja said within two months, national call charges should drop to 25 paisa a minute and tariff for calls within the circle should come down to 10 paisa a minute.

“I took a conscious political decision to allow more operators, which has resulted in stiff competition and reduction in tariff,” the Minister said.

At a time when prices of all commodities were increasing, the telecom sector had been an exception, where the tariffs were coming down, Mr. Raja said. While the tele-density had increased from 15 per cent to 40 per cent between 2007 and 2009, the number of telephone connections reached 580 million, just 20 million short of the goal of 600 million connections set for 2012, he noted.

Home Minister V.S. Acharya received the first call from Mr. Raja on the 3G service on behalf of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who could not make it to the event. Bangalore North MP D.B. Chandre Gowda, BSNL Director R.K. Agarwal, Chief General Manager, Karnataka Circle, P. Raghavan and Principal General Manager, Bangalore Telecom District, Shubhendu Ghosh were present.

Introductory offer

As an introductory offer, BSNL had been giving attractive tariffs, including 30 paisa a minute for voice and video calls on the 3G service. Even the existing BSNL subscribers had the option to migrate to 3G services without change in number.

Speaking about the services, Mr. Agarwal said at present broadband service was being offered at the speed of 3 Mbps, which would be increased up to 14 Mbps soon. Six post-paid plans, two pre-paid plans and one post-paid data plan were available to consumers.

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