Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mobile Number Portability: Idea, Vodafone lead in marketing rush

 Anupama Ahluwalia has a hectic week ahead. The senior vice-president of marketing at Idea Cellular will spend the next few days in Mumbai suburbs, visiting hundreds of mobile recharge outlets trying to convince subscribers of other telcos to 'get Idea' when number portability rolls out nationally on January 20.

Idea Cellular and Vodafone India are among a select group of telcos making frantic marketing moves to make the best of mobile number portability, or MNP, which allows mobile users to switch between service providers without changing their number.

Most operators, including market leader Airtel and Reliance Communications, however, have refrained from advertising over number portability as they don't expect any great impact from the new service.

Idea Cellular, which started the 'No idea? Get Idea' campaign to woo subscribers of rival telcos with MNP months ago, has opened a toll-free line to assist customers wanting to switch to Idea and launched a fresh television commercial on Tuesday. The campaign will run for some time.

"January 20th will be the start of MNP and not the end (of our marketing). All action is not on day one. We need to be ready for the process," says Ahluwalia.

India's second-largest mobile operator, Vodafone, too is upbeat about MNP, following a positive response in Haryana where number portability was introduced on November 25. The telco has brought back the famous Hutch pug for its 'Everybody's Welcome' campaign around MNP.

"We have received a good response from Haryana√Ę€¦the number of customers porting out of our network is a fraction of the number porting in," says Vodafone Essar strategy director Samaresh Parida.

But in Haryana, less that 1% customers changed their operator in almost two months. More than 1,40,000 out of 19 million subscribers in Haryana have switched their operators, according to telecom regulator TRAI.source

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