Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced the pan-India rollout of mobile number portability (MNP), which will allow mobile subscribers, both GSM and CDMA, to change their service providers, within a telecom circle, while retaining their numbers.

Terming the event “a very important milestone in the evolution of telecommunications” in the country, Dr. Singh said: “It is expected that this service will go a long way in enhancing customer satisfaction. MNP will enable a subscriber to exercise his or her choice and get products and services in accordance with his or her preferences.”

Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal and Minister of State Sachin Pilot were present at the function.

“Affordability has always been an issue for any new service…the service of MNP has been made accessible and affordable to all by keeping the charges as low as Rs.19,” Dr. Singh said. He hoped that stiff competition would lead to service providers not even charging the nominal amount from customers.

MNP, he noted, would trigger greater competition. “The telecom service providers will seek to improve the range and quality of their services in order to retain their existing subscribers and also to attract subscribers from other operators. This should further spur the growth of the telecom sector.”

Dr. Singh lauded the telecom sector's role in triggering growth in the country, saying: “More of our countrymen have been touched by this revolution than by any other programme, product or service in the history of our nation, and that too at a pace unprecedented in the world at large.”