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About 1.71m Indian mobile users have changed operator under MNP

09 февраля 2011

India's telecom regulator Tuesday said about 1.71 million cell phone users opted to change their service provider through the newly launched mobile number portability service as of Feb. 5, with analysts fearing it could further intensify competition and drag prices even lower.

Mobile number portability, or MNP, lets cell phone users change their service provider while retaining their number. The service was introduced in the northern Indian state of Haryana on Nov. 25 and was extended across the country from Jan. 20.

India is the world's largest and the second-fastest-growing telecom market in the world, with about 730 million wireless users. The launch of MNP in the country is likely to prompt operators to further reduce call tariffs--already among the lowest in the world--to gain users from rivals or retain existing ones, say experts.

This is likely to spur consolidation in the industry as new players--already reeling under the effects of low prices--may struggle to survive after MNP, they add.

However, Vodafone-Essar, Unitech Wireless Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd., don't expect the new service to be a game-changer in an already competitive market, where between 12-14 operators provide cell phone services in most of the 22 service areas.

Vodafone-Essar Ltd., majority owned by the U.K.'s Vodafone Group PLC said it had "encouraging feedback," from users to opt for its services, but added that it was too premature to disclose additional information.

Idea Cellular and Unitech Wireless, the Indian telecom joint venture of Norway's Telenor ASA, said they weren't relying on the new service to add users to their networks.

"The overall churn from MNP is not expected to be very high to make a huge impact on net additions," Idea Cellular said in an emailed response.

Unitech Wireless, which offers mobile telephone services under the "Uninor" brand name, said the net user addition on its network is "positive" and it hasn't "seen dramatic movements either from or to our network."

Two companies--Syniverse Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. and MNP Interconnection Telecom Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.--have licenses to offer the service in 11 each of India's 22 telecom service areas.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI, said the highest number of requests to change service providers--about 229,000 users--came from Haryana.

"TRAI is constantly monitoring the implementation of MNP in the country. Based on the complaints and feedback received, TRAI has instructed the service providers to strictly comply with the provisions of MNP regulations," it said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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