Reliance and BSNL lose. Vodafone, Idea and Airtel win. CDMA is out, GSM is in. That’s the verdict on mobile number portability (MNP), which came into force nationwide on January 20.
It is a trend that somewhat contrasts the experience of other countries with number portability, where incumbent market leaders often lost subscribers.
In India’s case, new entrants have not been able to seize the opportunity and dent the market share of top players, data released by the telecommunications department show.
With a net loss of 3 lakh subscribers, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) has been the worst affected.
While 45,000 subscribers switched to RCom in the first month of number portability, about 3.5 lakh existing subscribers walked out.
Government-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam closely followed with a net loss of 1.5 lakh subscribers migrating to other operators.
On the winning side, Vodafone led the pack with a net addition of 1.93 lakh subscribers, Idea came in second (1.51 lakh) and Bharti Airtel finished third (1.48 lakh). In absolute terms, though, Airtel had the highest number of subscribers (5.3 lakh) moving into its network, but it also had highest number of exits (3.8 lakh).
“These results are interesting,” said Mahesh Uppal, director, ComFirst, a telecom consultancy firm. “In most countries, incumbents have lost market share, while her they are the biggest gainers.” “While globally, the shift often has impacted the larger player, in India we have defied that,” said Atul Bindal, president (mobile services), Bharti Airtel. “Airtel has grown through intense competition and we’ve said that MNP will be an opportunity for us.”
The data also suggest consumers preferring GSM over CDMA. Tata Teleservices lost more than 1 lakh subscribers. Among new players S Tel, Uninor and Sistems Shyam were net gainers, while Etisalat DB and Videocon are net losers.