The customer was on Thursday crowned the king in the telecom sector by the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, when he launched mobile number portability (MNP) throughout India.
Within a few minutes of the launch, government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) set the trend by announcing freebies for subscribers to other companies who migrate to its network.
BSNL has said that no port charges (the Rs 19 charge that a customer has to pay to shift to another network) shall be levied to customers moving to its network. It will provide SIM card free of cost, along with talk time of Rs 100 for prepaid customers.
However, strong brands including Airtel and Vodafone have not yet offered any freebies.
“The world over, MNP has not been a game changer. In a competitive market bigger brands get identified,” said Sanjay Kapoor, CEO of Airtel.
While launching services, the prime minister said MNP will increase competition and the quality of services will improve.
“Though India has introduced MNP relatively late vis-a-vis other developed countries, it has been done by adopting the latest technologies and methodologies,” said Kapil Sibal, communications and IT minister.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) worked proactively in bringing in MNP in India. It first recommended MNP in 2006. However, DoT took two years to take a decision. Then TRAI set up customer friendly charges and procedures. DoT took another year and a half to implement it.
“It will give choice to consumers,” said Sri Ram Khanna, chairman of Consumer Voice.