Mobile number portability (MNP), under which you can change your telecom service provider while retaining your existing number, is being introduced nationwide from Thursday.It has already begun in parts of Haryana.
At 5pm sharp, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will launch India-wide MNP.
But even before it's been launched, telecom companies have begun being extra nice to their existing customers, for fear they might otherwise run away.
They are resorting to retention strategies unheard of in the telecom sector earlier, such as discounts and freebies, to retain their subscribers.
Take Rohit Sharma, an executive with an MNC, who had been using Reliance Communications connection since 2002 but was not satisfied Blackberry services.
Wanting to change, he approached Vodafone for migration under the MNP scheme. But as soon as Relaince got wind of it, its officers contacted Sharma, pleading with him to stay on.
They could do nothing about the state of their BlackBerry services, but offered to waive off R100 from Sharma's bill every month.
"Reliance wants to keep me back, but I need better service," Sharma said.
Both Reliance and Vodafone refused to comment.
A telecom analyst with credit rating agency ICRA said, "Operators are focused on minimising the initial outflow. Thus they are offerings cash discounts or freebies."
"Telecom operators are already developing specific retention strategies wherein key customers will be offered incentives to stay on," said Romal Shetty, telecom head at KPMG.
According to a company official, the retention divisions at telecom firms have grouped their consumers under two parameters: Average revenue per user and timely payment of bills.
Subscribers who run up high bills and pay them too in time will be aggressively wooed.
Will you make use of number portability and change your service provider? Poll here.