MNP signals open season for luring customers

Thomas K. Thomas New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2011

Operators bet on better coverage, innovative tariffs

With Mobile Number Portability being launched across the country it's open season for cellular operators as far as customer acquisition is concerned. While some operators are betting on innovative tariff plans, most of the incumbent players are luring customers promising better coverage and customer support.

“As the mobile subscriber base is increasing, the catchment area for new users is shrinking. With MNP it's open season again,” said Mr R. Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Telecom.

The State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd was first off the blocks to announce that it will not charge any fee for MNP although TRAI has allowed operators to take a fee of Rs 19. Besides this, the SIM card for 2G/3G would be provided free of cost along with additional talk value of Rs 100 for pre-paid customers.

New operators hopeful

New operators are hoping to wean away subscribers from the incumbent players. CDMA-based operator MTS has announced partnerships with leading banks to offer the latest range of smart-phones through EMI options. Mr Vsevolod Rozanov, President & CEO, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd said, “At MTS, over the next few days, we will launch a slew of innovative offerings for migrating GSM and CDMA mobile customers across India.”

Uninor, another new player, is betting on its dynamic pricing scheme. “You keep the same number but start getting up to 60 per cent discounts on all your calls — that is a powerful proposition,” said a Uninor spokesperson.

Banking on their brands

Incumbent operators such as Vodafone and Airtel, on the other hand, are confident that their network coverage and established brand will do the trick. “MNP is not about competing on pricing, it's about innovation, having good quality of service and customer support. We would like to compete at that level. This could put pressure on the new players as they will now have to spend big bucks on these things rather than just offer cheap tariffs,” said Mr Atul Bindal, President, Airtel Mobile Services.

Idea Cellular, which was the first operator to launch an advertisement series on MNP, has launched a dedicated helpline that offers all the relevant information on the processes and procedures of availing MNP. “We have made substantial investments on network, technology and processes to allow mobile subscribers to switch their networks and move to Idea post-MNP,” said Mr Rajat Mukarji, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Idea Cellular.

Mr Samaresh Parida, Director, Strategy, Vodafone Essar, said “We have set up a customer care cell to seek feedback with subscribers opting for change. We believe our business and brand proposition backed by the quality of network and customer service, positions us to benefit from MNP.”

Reliance Communication and Tata Teleservices are banking on their dual technology. Mr Mahesh Prasad, President, R Com said, “As Rcom offers one of the best networks — both CDMA and GSM — and has extensive coverage, it stands to gain from MNP. In data services we are the only company that offers mobile broadband services in over 500 towns that we recently launched in the last 10 -15 days.”

Mr Deepak Gulati, Executive President, Tata Teleservices said, “Our cutting-edge technology and a robust network will help us not only retain our customers, but also gain the position of operator of choice in the new regime. TTL's MNP strategy will ride strongly on a simple tariff structure and strong customer care and service levels.”

Published on January 24, 2011

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