Mobile number portability in India: Subtle influence

Posted on November 26, 2010  /  1 Comments

The common wisdom is that mobile number portability is an unmitigated good. But the whole point of doing research is challenging common wisdom. Based on evidence, we found that MNP has little relevance for our constituency, those at the bottom of the pyramid. We said so to Indian media, saying it would be a good thing for post-paid and corporate customers.

We now find those ideas reflected in Indian media coverage, though not always with attribution, as for example in the Times of India:

MNP works best with post-paid customers, as they are the highest paying of the lot. Of India’s over 700 million users, post-paid customers are no more than 7%-8 %, while the rest are pre-paid. Even with an expected 5% churn in the post-paid category, a limited impact on price or quality is expected, as the larger pre-paid customers usually don’t worry about changing mobile numbers, while switching operators. Operators believe they will lose and gain roughly the same number of users.

We do get some credit from the Hindu Business Line:

An analyst, however, said that the low-end consumers may not gain from MNP. A study done by LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based ICT policy and regulation think-tank, revealed that 26 per cent of Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) mobile subscribers in India said that they would definitely not consider switching even to a cheaper package, indicating that there is some kind of operator loyalty.

Ms Tahani Iqbal, Research Fellow, LIRNEasia said, “Social networks are important for the BOP segment and this will limit the movement from one network to another; BOP users are more likely to just purchase a new SIM to avail themselves of better services.”

But anyway, we’re happy. There are never simple causal links between what we do and what results are achieved.

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