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Help Companies create MNP 'switch-over' buzz
Consumers may be in for some more goodies as telecom companies prepare to launch the muchawaited mobile number portability (MNP) services from November 25 at Rohtak in Haryana. While Idea Cellular has already created a buzz with its 'Switch to Idea' campaign, other telecom firms will be unveiling their advertising campaign based on the MNP in the next few weeks.

Industry players and analysts say that the one big change in the telecom sector after the full roll-out of MNP will be the reduction in prices for premium services like short messaging service (SMS), data services and roaming charges. Currently, around 10% of the overall revenue in the telecom industry is generated from these services. However, not much change is expected in voice services (calling charges) immediately.

"The pricing premium attached with certain services will be decimated and highend consumers—both in prepaid and post-paid—will be offered preferential plans to stop them from changing operators," says Sanjay Chawla, telecom analyst, Antique Stock Broking. But the launch of MNP will certainly not be a game changer, he adds.

Aircel—which along with other operators like Airtel , Idea, Vodafone and Videocon , besides others, launches its MNP services on November 25—is of the view that stronger brands and better services will lure customers more than just competitive pricing.

"What we have done over the last two years is that we have built a young, refreshing brand and that is what will come in handy now to lure customers. The price elasticity is almost gone and price won't be an issue for a switch," says Gurdeep Singh, COO, Aircel.

The company will launch an MNP-related campaign which will talk about the process of porting in order to help customers decide says Singh. He admitted that roaming charges have been a concern and some action on the tariff front could be taken.

Service providers also say that mid-tier consumers in both pre-paid and postpaid segments will most likely switch with the onset of MNP considering that the churn in the low-end of the market is very high. Industry estimates say there is a monthly churn of 2% among the post-paid customers while the pre-paid segment sees a churn of 5-6 %—the highest in the world.

"The MNP launch will hit operators who don't have 3G as high-end enterprise consumers would like to switch to 3G-ready operators while rural customers will switch for better coverage," says Kamlesh Bhatia, principal analyst, Gartner. Experts say MNP will push operators to beef up their customer service to avoid churn.
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