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Mobile Number Portability In India On November 25th 2010; Who Cares?

I wouldn’t blame you if Mobile Number Portability in India reminds you of the famous ‘Tareekh pe tareekh” dialogue from Bollywood (translates as deferment after deferment). The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has now announced that MNP in India will be launched first in the Haryana circle, on November 25th, 2010. But, hopefully, this is the end of it: according to the DoT, the networks are now technically ready for launch of service, which essentially suggests that BSNL, MTNL and Uninor are now ready (it had suggested earlier that they weren’t). However, DoT has said that MNP will be launched across the country in a phased manner, and a detailed schedule will be announced separately, which suggests that they’re still buying time.

The Process

– Customers will have to send an SMS from their phone to 1900
– They will get a unique porting code as SMS from the existing service provider.
– The customer can then make an application in the prescribed form mentioning the code to the selected new service provider for porting of number.
– A period of 4 days has been prescribed for completion of porting (transfer) of the mobile number to the network of the new service provider.

More details on MNP rules in our previous report.

Sounds friction-less, but lets see what happens on-ground. This might not be easy if the porting code has to come from the existing service provider, and not an independent porting authority.

Will Users Churn Out?

At the time when MNP was initially being discussed, the rationale was that customers are beholden to a single number, and this prevents them from switching to a telecom operator with more attractive plans, or better service or network reach. Over the time that it’s taken to decide on and implement MNP, we’re wondering if it has been made redundant by a multi-SIM environment. Consumers, for the want of a better service or to take advantage of multiple plans, are now keeping multiple SIM cards: this has led to an increase in demand for dual SIM handsets in India, and new telecom operators are openly talking about trying to become the primary SIM.

That said, some incumbent operators, like Loop Mobile, might find users who have been with them for a decade, churning out to competitors; alternatively, or even users trying out another operator for their secondary SIM, for a better plan.

Who do you think will be hit more by MNP – incumbent or the new telecom operators?

Related:

Rules & Criteria For Applying For Mobile Number Portability In India

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