With Mobile Number Portability going across India live today, mobile subscribers will be able to freely change their telecom operator, and still retain their number. While the impact of MNP may not be perceived to be significant since Indian prepaid subscribers have been keeping multiple SIM cards, one SIM card is kept as a primary SIM/number, while the others are expendable. MNP might also mean that customers are more likely to retain a number an switch telecom operators, than junk the secondary SIM/number and buy a new number. The danger for telecom operators is when a consumer wants to change the service provider for the primary number.
Solving The Problem Of Choice
Telecom operators in India area allowed (as per a TRAI regulation) to offer a total of 25 plans (each) in each of the 22/23 licensed circles of operation. According to data published by the TRAI which MediaNama accessed, not many are reaching that limit: for example, Vodafone in Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, Kerala, MTNL in Mumbai and Bharti Airtel in Delhi. However, there are a fairly large number of plans to choose from, if you’re beholden to a particular telecom operator:
So, if you’re a post-paid consumer, there are 95 GSM plans on offer in Mumbai, and 81 in Delhi. The number of telecom operators operational in multiple service areas has gone up since this, so the total number of plans on offer across telecom operators has probably gone up.
However, there’s an opportunity in providing a service across telecom operators: an independent “comparison shopping” service, if you please. We found one such site – ChangeMyNetwork – that is trying to do just that: it asks users online to specify their usage pattern – Local and national on-net and off net calls and messaging, as well as local and national landline calls, and it recommends plans to consumers, for the lowest cost. Update: another site Your Bill Buddy, allows the same, but isn’t trying to leverage MNP.
The monetization could probably be through lead generation for telecom operators, or their direct selling agents, since a consumer who searches for such information has a clearly identified intent or interest in switching.
Is This Business Defensible?
We wouldn’t be surprised if several such sites crop up on the next few months, because the information is openly available: telecom operators already are required to disclose all of their plans, according to state, on their website. All that has to be done, is calculate the cost per plan for the pre-paid or post-paid connection, and show the comparison.
I wonder if such a product can be created on IVR as well.