Mobile Number Portability (MNP) - New Rules of the Game ?
Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 6148
, Published on 20 January 2011
At last, MNP (Mobile Number Portability) is a reality in India. There has been lot of churn in the Telecom industry in recent months with 3 G auctions, 2G Scam and now MNP, foreseen by many pundits as game changer.
For many mobile operators in India, Marketing was just about customer acquisition. Once a customer bought a number from a particular carrier, he was locked in with the operator unless he decides to change his mobile number altogether. Switching to other operator means sacrificing the old number for a new one which further needs to be informed to all the contacts. This was one of the reasons why people resisted switching to new operator even if the quality of service offered by incumbent operator is below par. Now, with number portability launch, the game shifts to Customer Retention along with acquisition.
For a normal customer, it was still easier to inform about the number change to all its contacts. He can just put it on his messenger, Facebook, Twitter and number would propagate itself. But it was not true for a person who used this number for his business (small or big). Imagine a Mechanic who worked on the basis of calls he received. Now if he changes his number, his business comes to a standstill for many days till his new number reaches his customers somehow. His customers most probably would not be his FB friends. So for him switching operator was a very difficult choice.
He doesn’t have any other option but to ignore small glitches, poor network coverage, poor voice clarity, poor customer service etc.
But after MNP, none of the above issues would be ignored. Our Mechanic will simply switch to the operator which provides the best service in his area.
But will MNP really change the rules of the game or would it really make the marketing battle more intense?
May be yes, may be no.
How simple is it to switch operator? Is it free? What is the procedure to switch to the other operator?
Users can switch if and only if a minimum period of 90 days has elapsed after subscription to the mobile service of the current service provider.
Procedure to use Mobile Number Portability:-
1.Send the following SMS to 1900 – PORT – e.g. PORT 9123456789
2. You will get an SMS with your unique porting code. This is a unique number that will be maintained along with your mobile number with a third party called MNP Service Provider (Selected companies for this service in India- Syniverse Technologies and Telcordia). The unique code has an expiry time. You need to apply to the new preferred operator with that code within the stipulated time.
3. The new operator will communicate with existing operator and ask for permission. If approved the new operator will set a time for porting and communicate this to MNP provider and existing operator.
4. On the set date and time, the current operator will disconnect the number and pass the message to MNP provider.
5. The new operator will now claim that number and MNP would maintain a central database with the new details.
6. The charge is Rs 19.
Majority of the people are thinking that it will cause a loss to some operators and profits to others. But it would not be a case.
India has a very competitive telecom market scenario. All the operators have similar tariffs, similar call plans and similar rates, so the main motive of switching i.e. cheaper call rates, is defeated.
There were few differences like GPRS plans or caller tunes or SMS bundles which might make people switch but the volume of such transfers would be too low.
The main reasons of switching would be
1)Network quality in a particular area
2)Friends and Family will try to switch to a single operator to get special group offers and discounts
3)Special 3G services plans in future for premium customers( too less to topple bottom lines of operators)
4)Dissatisfaction with Customer Service
5)Error prone bills
6)Bad Experience with some operator
The above reasons are not highly significant to change the dynamics. They don’t have the power to topple one operator from the market and place the other at Numero Uno position just on the basis of MNP.
The net effect of MNP should be or would be zero in the long run. It would definitely lead to some waves in the short run but later it will settle down.
One more issue is that MNP is not applicable across states.If a person switches his job and moves to a new city in a new state, he has to buy a new number.
But still introduction of MNP is a welcome step. It was highly needed to keep a check on the service quality provided by Operators as the customers now have a powerful tool in their hand to move on.
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