Over 100 million mobile phone subscribers changed their telecom operator using the mobile number portability feature in financial year 2022-23 (FY23), according to a report in the Hindu Businessline.
The data for telcos' mobile subscriber numbers for March 2023 was released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday. On analysing the data on mobile number portability from March 2022 to 2023, Kotak Institutional Equities found that, on average, around 10 million mobile subscribers ported their number each month in FY23.
In FY23, a total of 121 million instances of subscribers porting their mobile phone numbers were reported.
The data points towards the poaching of subscribers by operators on cheaper prepaid plans. There have been multiple instances of telecom operators providing incentives in the form of commissions to third-parties to make subscribers switch mobile phone numbers. Since these retailers receive a commission every time a subscriber switches his/her/their phone operator, they consistently prod subscribers to change their operator.
“Because all the operators are taking part in this, such an exercise has no real effect on the subscriber base of the operator. The net effect on the subscriber count is still zero due to the participation of every major operator,” an expert told the Hindu Businessline. But, for the telcos, the cost of acquiring a new customer has been increasing off late as these commissions to retailers do not give any tangible results when it comes to boosting the overall subscriber number, he added.
The overall subscriber churn might start piping down in the next few months as operators become more conscious about the methods they practise to get new subscribers. The survey was done in Mumbai, and nearby rural and semi-urban districts.
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According to the IIFL report, there was a 15–25 per cent reduction in trade payouts by telcos onMobile Number Portability (MNP). “Trade payout (commission provided to the retailer) on mobile number portability (MNP) has decreased in the last few months, especially in areas where it was elevated. Some retailers that we spoke to said that all telcos now pay Rs 250–280 per port-in to the retailer vs. Rs 300+ a few months ago. In some micro-markets where Jio is strong, we were told that the latter’s payout of approximately Rs 210 per port-in is approximately 15 per cent lower than peers. This suggests that telcos set MNP payouts based on their strengths and weaknesses in a micro-market rather than adopting a district- or cluster-wise approach,” the IIFL report said.