PM to flag off nationwide roll-out of MNP tomorrow

New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh isslated to flag off the nationwide roll-out of mobile numberportability tomorrow, a move that will allow users to switchoperators without losing their phone numbers and will forcetelecom providers to improve the quality of their services.

"I think its a great step forward for the consumer, as itenhances choice and brings in more competition, because themore efficient you are as a service provider, the more likelythat consumers will choose you," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibaltoday said.

MNP services were first launched in Haryana in Novemberlast year. Nevertheless, companies like Idea Cellular andVodafone started marketing their services to subscribers inother parts of the country that are looking at switchingoperators even before MNP services were rolled out.

Idea Cellular, which started the ''No idea? Get Idea''campaign to woo the subscribers of rival telcos, has also setup a toll-free line to assist customers looking to switchoperators.

More operators are expected to undertake similaractivities to retain their subscribers, with competitionlikely to heat up following the nationwide roll-out of MNPservices, with telcos poaching their rivals'' subscribers.

On tariffs, Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL) Presidentand Chief Executive Officer Vsevolod Rozanov, which offersservices under the brand MTS, said, "I think tariffs will godown further especially if we speak about the post-paidcustomer base that is where we are likely to see the ARPUgoing down."

"In the pre-paid segment, I doubt a significant change intheir tariffs or profitability," he said.

However, analysts feel there might not be a huge impacton the revenues of the telecom operators.

"For the first 3 to 6 months, we might see the churngoing up to 6 to 7 per cent from the current levels of about 4per cent per month. But then it will stabalise and we don''texpect much impact on revenues either," Ernst & Young (E&Y)Partner and Telecom Industry Leader Prashant Singhal said.

Singhal added that MNP is expected to be more of an urbanphenomenon than a rural one.

Operators also seem upbeat on MNP. "Overall, it''s a goodmove for the customers. It puts the service providers on theirtoes and will make them focus on delivering value to theconsumers, giving them the power to choose," COAI said.

Agrees Aircel COO Gurdeep Singh, "We expect similar churnas normally happens. So there is no different impact (becauseof MNP). In fact, it''s good for the subscribers." PTI SR AKHSKB ARV

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