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Mobile Number Portability: Taking stock 
(Mon, 30 May Pre-Open) 
 
Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was introduced on a nationwide basis in January this year. With 3 full months behind us, let us take stock of how operators have fared. With low mobile rates, one might wonder if any subscriber would want to switch operators. The truth is they do. The reason is quality of service. Quality of service varies from operator to operator which in turn varies from circle to circle. So if Airtel is considered to be excellent in New Delhi, it maybe Vodafone which is termed 'good' in Mumbai. The reason for this is the network coverage of each operator which varies from circle to circle.

As per data released by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have emerged as the top winners of MNP in these three months. More subscribers have ported into their network as compared to that on any other operator network. Interestingly, the biggest losers have been state-owned BSNL and Reliance Communications. MTNL was not too far behind.

These results show that at least in terms of perception the larger incumbent operators still maintain their superior value. While new operators have created a lot of noise in terms of lower rates and aggressive marketing efforts, they have not been able to create visible customer preference. Even operators like Tata Docomo, who has revolutionized the telecom industry with its pay per second billing, has not gained as many subscribers through MNP as was expected.

Going forward, there are still several things that would affect the results of MNP. The launch of 3G services by operators, which is still in its initial phase. Consolidation in the industry through mergers and acquisitions, which may actually kick off once the new telecom policy, is in place. And most importantly, porting still takes time as there are teething problems that need to be smoothened out. Once that happens, there may be many more customers availing MNP as compared to what there are at the moment.

While it is still too early to state that incumbent are clear winners in the MNP game but for now it definitely looks like it.

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