My colleague who made the previous post had neglected to look at the cause of the so-called spike in inactive SIMs. The cause is a change in definition, plain and simple. The market revaluation has been triggered by rule changes in the activity period allowed for prepaid users and the effect of mandatory SIM registration. Previously, users would see their services terminated if they had not recharged their prepaid cards or placed/received a call within a period of 180 days. In 2010, that period was reduced to 90 days and, recently, the TRAI has reportedly reduced the period to just 20 days.
A story that extensively draws on LIRNEasia research by Voice and Data has coined a new and probably more appropriate term for MNP: not mobile number portability but multiple number possession. MNP seems to be another case of applying Western regulatory instruments without looking at the actual context and needs. In the interview, I said that I too had favored MNP in the old days, but that the results of the Teleuse @ BOP surveys, especially the qualitative studies shows we need to rethink. If we are implementing number portability (which could be useful for corporates and high-end customers) we need to ensure that the costs of portability are assigned to those who cause them and not the operator who is losing the customer. The simple fact that multiple SIM ownership has increased in Pakistan which was the first in the region to implement MNP should suggest something.
Pakistan did it, with supposed good results. The Maldives studied it and decided it was not worth it. Sri Lanka is supposed to be thinking about it. It is mobile number portability (MNP). None of them had the benefit of the teleuse@BOP results.