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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MNP kicks off a lot of BUZZ created !!!, but few shifting yet


 After waiting for at least five years, most Indians finally got the ability to change their mobile service provider without changing their number on Thursday, but very few actually did, said industry watchers.
But that didn’t stop the phone companies from trying to generate as much buzz as they could, both online and offline.


 After waiting for at least five years, most Indians finally got the ability to change their mobile service provider without changing their number on Thursday, but very few actually did, said industry watchers.
But that didn’t stop the phone companies from trying to generate as much buzz as they could, both online and offline.
Mobile number portability (MNP) was the talk of the Indian microblogosphere, as the move came into effect. #MNP topped the list of trending topics for India, while “mobile number portability” was third.


A lot of the tweets were generated by the telcos themselves. Bharti Airtel Ltd (@airtel_in) promised potential crossover customers “a nice surprise ;-)” and later quoted a Hindustan Times MNP survey as saying that one in three consumers would switch to it. Meanwhile, Tata DoCoMo (@tatadocomo) cited a survey by @indiasurveys (which conducts surveys on Indian news issues on Twitter) that said 50% of all Airtel’s consumers would switch to its services.
Tata DoCoMo, which had the most aggressive Twitter campaign by far, also initiated a hashtag campaign named #switch2TataDoCoMo, which it inserted into all its tweets on MNP. A typical tweet by the company read, “f ur lookin to switch then ensure its to a #3G ready network, who believes in cool offers..aka us ;-) #Switch2TataDoCoMo #MNP”. The firm also adopted an informal tone in its replies to individual tweeters, often referring to them as “buddy” or “pal”.
Idea Cellular Ltd, which ran an aggressive television campaign asking people to “Get Idea”, was also active on Twitter, though not in quite the same manner as Tata DoCoMo.
Vodafone Essar Ltd (@vodafone_in) also had a restrained approach, although the company had been running a campaign to get consumers to switch to its services over the last few days. There was barely any mention of #MNP, with the company choosing to respond to customer queries and complaints instead.
Meanwhile, consumers used the opportunity to either praise or hit out at their mobile phone operators, with many of them announcing who they were planning to switch to and why. One user @krrish_vn said, “Every service provider hav their own probs..Lets see who take advantage...and who loses....Anyway Bsnl will lose a valble customer.nd its me”. There was also a lot of hilarity over a text message sent by Airtel to its consumers, which thanked customers for being on “India’s network” and the usual number of quips, slogans and witticisms. The top tweet for #MNP by @krishashok read “Can I get Aircel’s coverage, Airtel’s call centre, Vodafone’s EDGE and BSNL’s bill?”
The MNP wars were not restricted just to Twitter. Vodafone, Tata DoCoMo and Airtel have all bought advertising space on Google that appears on the result pages on searches for either MNP or mobile number portability.
Telcos went into overdrive offline as well. Many have rolled out massive advertising campaigns, while some of the operators have launched aggressive below-the-line campaigns as well.
“Many of the operators have been pushing their existing discounts along with promises of free gifts among other things,” said a telecom expert with one of the larger consulting firms. “Initially, many of them are launching mass-market schemes to attract the initial movers en masse. Later, the operators will launch specific, targeted schemes,” added this person, who did not want to be identified.
One winner that seems to be emerging from the battle is the distributor.
“The operators have started offering the distributors some Rs150-200 for every ported subscriber, while they are also looking at trade schemes,” a Mumbai analyst said. Trade schemes refer to gifts and rewards for distributors who push certain products to consumers. “One operator is offering subscribers a free watch to port,” he added, asking not to be identified.
There may be some impact on the prepaid market thanks to the distributor push, but that won’t last for long, experts said.
In any case, there didn’t seem to be much of an impact on the consumer base on the first day.
“Most subscribers that are looking to port have decided to wait a few days. There is a novelty aspect to the whole thing and many who have decided to move are weighing their options,” said a senior executive with one of the larger telecom firms, who did not want to be identified.
“There is a general inquisitiveness among the consumers and many are looking into the various offers. But the operators have gone into overdrive with their marketing schemes,” a second Mumbai-based analyst said, speaking on condition of anonymity.source

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