Judging by the initial reaction to the introduction, in Haryana, of mobile number portability (MNP), most cellphone users have no pressing desire to shift.
MNP allows a subscriber to change his or her service provider without changing the mobile number. It was launched 11 days earlier in the Haryana telecom circle. In that time, operators estimate, 30,000- 35,000 customers have requested a change in their operator. Haryana has 17 million customers and 11 operators; the numbers are much less than one per cent of the base.
At this rate, operators expect less than 1.5 per cent of the subscriber base to opt for MNP in the next two months. This is much lower than the monthly churn rate of the sector, of five per cent per month. As for the belief that post-paid customers would be the first to churn, operators say just two to three per cent of the porting requests are coming from post-paid subscribers (who are only three per cent of Haryana’s subscribers base). Some analysts say most of the shift is happening from CDMA to GSM operators.
Tata Teleservices’ executives say they’ve got about 21 per cent of the customers who’ve opted for MNP. They say they’d been getting 35 per cent of the incremental subscribers every month to their brand, mostly pre-paid ones.
Reliance Communications (RCom) has been concentrating on getting only high-paying post-paid customers. For, average revenue per user in this category is equivalent to 10 pre-paid subscribers. An RCom spokesperson says: “Of the total movement on postpaid for RCom, 80 per cent are port in (those who want to join RCom). In value terms, this is 73 per cent of the total value of port ins and port outs (those who wish to leave Rcom) put together.”
Vodafone Essar sources say for every one of their customers wanting to go to another operator, there are two who want to join them.
Most operators, it appears, are trying hard to keep back their post-paid customers. “Once a request comes for a change, most operators are calling the subscriber, pleading not to shift. If that does not work, the processing of the request is being delayed. However, we all know we can’t do this too long,” says a leading operator.