The Malaysian mobile sector is certainly the place to watch over the next few months with the much anticipated mobile number portability (MNP) trials scheduled for in Q4 and Q1 2008 and the upcoming commercial launches of the two new 3G players, MiTV and TimeDotCom.
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MNP is a widely-accepted regulatory tool used to promote healthy competition and enhance customer choice in the mobile market. It effectively eliminates customer "stickiness" resulting from attachment to a mobile number or perceived premium attached to a prefix, as may be the case in <‾xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags' />Malaysia.
Malaysia's late adoption of MNP - Singapore started in 1997, Hong Kong in 1999 and Australia in 2001 - in Ovum's view could be an advantage. MNP is usually best introduced at a stage when the market has entered a mature phase, because at that point a further boost in competitiveness may be desirable.
MNP acts as an incentive for the rejuvenation of competition. The Malaysian mobile sector, with a 76% penetration rate and 20.6 million subscribers in Q1, can be characterised as maturing. The three existing mobile operators are on fairly equal footing with none having a significant competitive advantage over the others in terms of market share, coverage, quality of service or price.
MNP is to be introduced in Malaysia about six months after the scheduled commercial launch of the new 3G operators, and with the right marketing strategies targeting the various customer segments, MNP can be a powerful tool for these operators to gain a foothold in the market.
In Singapore the introduction of MNP occurred at a time when the third mobile operator, StarHub, was licensed, and enabled that operator potential access to SingTel and M1 customers.
Call for loyalty
So what can users expect with MNP‾
In the lead up to MNP we expect mobile operators to intensify their marketing campaigns to try to keep their customers loyal.