MNP to launch India-wide today

Dylan Bushell-Embling
20 Jan 2011

After more than a year of delays, mobile number portability is finally due to launch across India today.

India commenced MNP services in the Haryana region in November, but a national implementation originally due for the end of 2009 has been repeatedly held up by technical issues and bureaucratic resistance.

Some industry participants expect the launch of MNP to further stimulate competition in the already cutthroat market. Sistema Shyam CEO Vsevolod Rozanov told theEconomic Times he expects post-paid tariffs and ultimately ARPU to decline under to the scheme.

But Ernst & Young partner Prashant Singhal told the paper he expects churn to rise by just two or three percentage points - to 6-7% from the current 4% - and predicted little impact on operator revenues.

Statistics from regulator Trai indicate that around 140,000 of the Haryana region's 19 million mobile subscribers ported their numbers in the nearly two months since the service went live.

State-owned BSNL, which some have suggested could be a big loser from the introduction of MNP, yesterday shook off these claims.

A BSNL chief general manager told Indian media the company actually expects major gains to its subscriber base as a result, Business Standardsaid. The operator is not charging for number porting and will give the new customers 100 rupees ($2.20) in free talk time.

Some operators, including Idea Cellular and Vodafone Essar, have also already began marketing campaigns aimed at wooing subscribers from rival networks. But others reportedly expect little effect on churn or margins, and don't plan any special advertising.

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