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MNP for Mobile Phone Subscribers

Today, mobile phones have become inevitable in one’s life. We’ve seen it grow from a mere luxury to now a necessity. The transformation in the lifestyle of we, the people is a major reason for this change. What started with a several bucks for incoming call has moved on to a plethora of plans which have free outgoing calls today.

The telecom sector has had a great time in the past 10 years. Early players have minted a huge sum of money already despite the licensing fee they would have paid to get into the play-field. From just 40.6 million mobile phone users in Spetember’2004, India is to have over 650 million users by 2012, as predicted by the Indian prime minister last year.

Admist all the number games, an acronym which is of more interest to the mobile phone subscribers is MNP or the well known and self explanatory, Mobile Number Portability.

Mobile number portability (MNP) enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.

A large percentage of mobile users are willing to switch to a different service provider but cannot afford to change their phone numbers. MNP is for them. The latest news in this context was DoT’s notification on rolling out MNP by September’2009 in Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra and Gujarat which form Zone I and Kolkata, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka of Zone 2 within the following 6 months.

MNP is active in countries like Australia, Denmark and Sweden since 2001. Even Saudi Arabia has it since the year 2006.

On researching about the delay in MNP getting introduced in India, despite the country being one of the largest in terms of mobile phone subscribers, I could infer to some surprising insights. A well known telecom blog owner and digital media reporter called it to be a delay due to a major telecom waiting to roll over the ramp before MNP kicks off. Looking at the repeated extensions of the MNP roll out, the statements appear to have a cause.

The irony is, there is no single service provider which the people wish to stick to. There are people who are running on a provider A and wish to move to provider B. On the contrary, a lot of subscribers from provider B wish to move to provider A. Hence, if MNP is to help the subscribers in general, it would do so by creating a competitive environment amongst the players in terms of network, plans, etc.

It would be a great watch to see a country like India rolling out MNP and how do subscribers react to the same. Which provider is to suffer the most with this move and which one is to be the top gainer? Another important segment would be the CDMA v/s GSM services and the fate of the players which operate in both the technologies.

A lot of questions shall remained unanswered until we see the DoT notification implemented, without any further delay.

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