The much-awaited and talked about Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was introduced in India in January 2011. It was forecast to be a major game changer in the field of mobile telephony, predicted to create chaos in the industry, cause extensive migration from poor service providers to the good ones and hence wean out the underperformers.  It was also meant to bring the focus back on to the customer and force service providers to provide topmost quality and service.

But has it really been a game-changer? Has there been that quantum of migration predicted originally? Industry experts had originally predicted that 10% of the mobile users would opt for MNP within the first year. Over the first 3/4th of the year, only 2% (about 181 lac users out of a base of ~8500 lac users) have opted for MNP.

What’s been the outcome of MNP – has the migration been uni-directional or multi-directional? Has it really proved that some providers are the winners and caused those who weren’t at the top of the game to fall out?

Sure, there have been some clear losers – all CDMA players lost customers to GSM players (Note: both Tata Tele and Reliance have their GSM networks too) mainly due to poor connectivity and lack of handset options in CDMA. (Reliance also lost from their GSM base due to poor connectivity and service).

Has it really brought the focus back on the customer? Has it been the case where only the originally better performers have by-default gained from the obvious underperformers but not made any improvements themselves? Clearly, there has also been a need for improvement even in the case of the key gainers, because even they’ve seen significant port-out activity from their customer base.

MNP might end up being a factor that ensures that service levels of any brand do not fall below a minimum threshold, in that sense it may yet benefit a consumer. But does this mean that the service providers hover around the minimum threshold, or should they march full force ahead to offer top-quality standards and stand to gain a lot more. They sure would get me that way!

So sure, MNP is an enabler, and a powerful one; but a game-changer – I think not! At least, not yet!



Roshni Jhaveri