It has been over 5 years since Mobile Number Portability has been introduced in India. We take a look at the net subscriber gains or losses for various operators. Incumbents Airtel, Vodafone and Idea stand out as the only gainers; Idea remains the biggest gainer with 17 mn net port-ins until end-January 2016. Not surprisingly, RCom, Aircel and Tata Indicom / DoCoMo are the biggest losers. BSNL’s performance is surprisingly respectable.
Idea tops the chart with 17 mn cumulative net gains over this period, Vodafone is second with 11.1 mn net gains and Bharti the third with 7.3 mn net gains. Other operators put together have lost 35.4 mn net subs with RCOM (net loss of 10.8 mn), Aircel (6.6 mn) and TTSL (6.4 mn) being the biggest losers. BSNL’s net loss of 2.5 mn looks respectable relative to RCOM, TTSL and Aircel.
CDMA players have seen a net subs loss of 8.3 mn subs with low gross port-ins of only 2.1 mn subs (versus 10.4 mn port-outs). We suspect these were all high-usage voice subs that were stuck with CDMA in the absence of MNP as they did not want to change their number. Sustained sharp decline in CDMA share of voice minutes in the market corroborates this aspect.
Porting Activity Within Incumbents
In absolute terms, A-Vo-Id Operators have seen as high as 88.5 mn cumulative port-outs till date; cumulative port-ins for them has been 123.9 mn subs. Other players, combined have seen 44.7 mn port-ins and 80.1 mn port-outs.
Essentially, these data points suggest a high degree of porting activity within the incumbent pack itself, i.e. customers porting from one incumbent to another. This is likely reflective of (1) the generally primary nature of incumbent SIMs. Several customers in India use two or more SIMs – one primary (permanent incoming number) and others secondary. When it comes to switching operators, primary SIMs are typically ported while secondary ones are discarded.