Sim card vendors rake in with MNP

Written by Nikita Upadhyay | Nikita Upadhyay | Mumbai | Updated: Apr 18 2011, 06:51am hrs
Service providers have been quick to make claims as to who weaned away the most subscribers ever since the launch of mobile number portability (MNP) this January, but there is one segment that has undoubtedly reaped a windfall sim card retailers. Before the introduction of MNP, these retailers were getting a commission anywhere between R45-50 on the sale of every sim card. However, in a rush to lure more subscribers, operators have increased this commission by more than 150% to R120-150 now for each port-in (new addition) to an operator. Interestingly, this game plan is applicable majorly to the pre-paid segment. With MNP, subscribers now pay us more on every port-in that we bring on to their network. Incumbent and new operators are on par when it comes to the amount after every port-in, said Amol Yadav of Matru Communication, a retailer at Kalbadevi in Mumbai.

The service was introduced on a nationwide scale on January 20 this year and an initial port-in/port-out data by DoT (as on January 31) suggests Vodafone Essar was the biggest gainer with almost 1,92,761 net additions, followed by Idea Cellular. Data showed that Reliance Communications (RCom) lost 3,06,417 subscribers. We are not targeting numbers but value, and have so far roped in 10,000 high-value postpaid customers. Operators are playing a retail game for recording higher subscriber addition numbers. One fourth of subscribers churning out are zero ARPU prepaid subscribers, said Anurag Parashar, president, customer service, RCom. A report by Deloitte said that for telecom companies, the increase in churn rate post-MNP has been lukewarm to about 5% from the current 4% per month in the initial phase of its launch, but in the long term, it will become more stable. Most of the customers do not know much about MNP. We advise them that instead of throwing away a sim card after use, they can retain the number with just R19, said Harish Kotiyan, another retailer. As per Trai data on March 9 , countrywide MNP requests crossed 38 lakh by the end of February. Out of these requests, around 3.20 lakh pertained to Haryana.

Gujarat received 3.65 lakh requests, followed by Rajasthan with 3.14 lakh. Down South, maximum number of requests have been received in Karnataka 3.18 lakh followed by Tamil Nadu - 2.76 lakh.

A monthly subscriber addition data compiled by Trai for February shows Vodafone as the biggest gainer again with 17.61% of the 20.20 million subscriber additions and RCom as second with 16.36% subscriber share.