Customer Is King With Mobile Number Portability

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is proving to be a big hit across India, with 13 million subscribers changing their service provider since November 2010. Users can now freely change their existing numbers to new service providers without going through the trouble of sending hundreds of SMS’s to existing contacts, who would then have to manually save it.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India states that maximum number of porting requests have come from Gujarat (12.98 lakh) followed by Maharashtra (10.32 lakh). In the southern zone, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have the maximum requests.

The TRAI had issued guidelines to not reject porting requests due to inconsequential outstanding amounts of less than Rs 10 or any contractual obligations except for a bundled handset with a contract having an exit clause and the subscriber not complying with the same. The number of telephone subscribers in India is steadily rising at a rate of 1.29 per cent to a staggering 885.99 million (more than the entire population of Europe) at the end of June 2011. The “tele-density” grew to 163.13 in June from 155.96 in May.

The Big Boys Losing Market Share: A million CDMA subscribers have ditched their providers, mainly due to connectivity problems and poor service. About 5,42,000 CDMA subscribers of Reliance Communications have switched to GSM. Tata Indicom saw 4,47,000 subscribers changed loyalties. 9,33,750 and 67,198 subscribers ported out of the BSNL and MTNL networks respectively, while those porting in included a modest 3,49,489 and 11,593 subscribers respectively, according to Milind Deora’s numbers. This is a cruel twist of fate but it has sent out a strong message to the older players, telling them to respect subscriber’s needs instead of blatantly ripping them off.

An Idea has literally changed lives: Kumar Mangalam Birla Group’s Idea Cellular has gained more than 8,59,000 subscribers. Idea is now the 3rd largest mobile services operator in revenue terms, with a subscriber base of over 93.75 mn. It expanded its NLD and ILD operations in FY 2010 and increased its revenue market share by over 1%, despite breakneck tariff wars.

What does the future hold? Gone are the days of companies dictating terms to subscribers, and we can now expect that little bit more in terms of service, as operators scramble for newer subscribers. The biggest problem in changing operators used to be the change in your special, recurring number but with that issue now history, people can jump ship when the situation calls for it.

Subscriber Power Increasing: The consumer is now king, and in a price sensitive market, what better way to attract them than routine tariff cuts? We have always maintained that the TRAI has been forward-thinking and progressive, and very rarely do end users get the sweeter deal. They have now.

That said, the quality of service now remains key, and if companies like Idea also start taking customers for granted, it wouldn’t be long before they witness an exodus of their own making. MNP has taken the market by storm, and we are now embarking on a new era of Telecom Wars, one which will be even more ruthless than any in the past.

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