Five years after mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced in India, incumbents Idea Cellular, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel stand out as the only gainers while Reliance Communications, Aircel and Tata Teleservices are the biggest losers.
“Idea remains the biggest gainer with 17 million net port-ins until end-January 2016. Not surprisingly, RCOM, Aircel and TTSL are the biggest losers. BSNL’s performance is surprisingly respectable,” Kotak Institutional Equities said in a note.
Quoting from TRAI data, it said incumbents Bharti, Vodafone and Idea are the only net gainers since MNP was launched in January 2011.
“Idea tops the chart with 17 million cumulative net gains over this period, Vodafone is second with 11.1 million net gains and Bharti the third with 7.3 million net gains,” it said.
Other operators put together have lost 35.4 million net subscribers with RCOM (net loss of 10.8 million), Aircel (6.6 million) and TTSL (6.4 million) being the biggest losers.
“Interestingly, Telenor has seen a net loss of 4.4 million, high given its market share; this is perhaps reflective of Telenor shrinking its operations to six circles (from 13) post licence cancellations in 2012,” Kotak said.
BSNL’s net loss of 2.5 million looks respectable relative to RCOM, TTSL and Aircel, it said.
Also there has been “a high degree of porting activity within the incumbent pack itself, i.e. customers porting from one incumbent to another,” Kotak said.
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’.
“Porting customers generally move ‘up’ or laterally on the quality ‘curve’; this would show up in high level of porting activity strictly within the incumbent operators,” it said.
Gaps in hi-speed data network (3G or 4G) footprint of incumbents has led to meaningful port-outs (to other incumbents).
Stating that CDMA is close to its end-life, at least as a voice offering, Kotak said the 3 CDMA players have seen a net loss of 8.3 million subscribers with low gross port-ins of only 2.1 million subsribers (versus 10.4 million port-outs).
“We suspect these were all high-usage voice subscribers 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,” it said.