Sci & Tech

The Next MNP Battle Begins

Another national scheme has turned messy due to the unprofessional behavior of mobile phone operators and negligence of officials
The Next MNP Battle BeginsThe Next MNP Battle Begins
In the last 40 days, 55,000 MNP requests have been registered and only 35% of them were successful in transferring their network operators

After more than a month of the launch of Mobile Number Portability scheme across Iran, contradictory statistics have confused switchers.

The long-awaited switching scheme was launched as “a new service” in August, with many people excited to switch networks due to a number of niggles with their existing networks.

According to Communications Regulatory Authority, 55,000 MNP requests have been registered and only 35% of them were successful in transferring their network operators in the last 40 days.

This is while the two major Iranian mobile operators claim otherwise. MTN Irancell, Iran’s second largest operator with a 40% market share, claims that only 26% of the requests have been successful.

The latter number sounds more believable since many subscribers, including several Financial Tribune reporters, tried to switch networks without success.

Hossein Fallah Joshaghani, the deputy head of CRA, recently said subscribers should be able to move their number in a week.

“CRA will take legal measures against operators who deliberately fail to provide MNP services,” he said.

Joshaghani explained that one of the main obstacles in providing the services in time has been the inept delivery system of operators.

After registering for the service, subscribers are to receive a new SIM card from their new operator in less than 48 hours. After the new SIM has been activated, the subscriber’s former SIM will not be usable.

This is while a significant number of subscribers who have tried to use the service reported that firstly they did not receive the new SIM card in the promised period, with operators in some cases taking more than a week to deliver.

Secondly, even when the SIM cards were delivered in time, they have not been activated even after a week while the subscriber’s original SIM has been deactivated by the operator.

The ombudsman reported that on a daily basis, 4,000-5,000 MNP requests have been registered since the official launch.

Demand for the service, unprepared infrastructure and operators’ unwillingness in losing their subscribers to rivals have made an undecipherable mess out of the national scheme.

The scheme was initially touted to boost Iran’s telecom sector.

Alireza Qalambor, CEO of Irancell, announced at a recent telecoms conference controversial statistics that embarrassed officials in attendance, including the telecoms minister.

Qalambor claimed that 39,910 subscribers of MCI tried to move to Irancell’s network and only 17% of them were successful. He added that from a total number of 7,944 requests by Irancell subscribers to move to another operator, 72% of the transactions went through.

Although the official did not say it directly, the Irancell chief hinted that MCI and RighTel are withholding the service and annoying the people trying to transfer.

Following the event, Mohsen Bahadori, the director of porting at MCI, said, “Not only the [Irancell] numbers quoted by the CEO are false, but they have also been miscalculated.”

When a single subscriber registers several requests for a single phone number, his request should be counted as one, but “Irancell has failed to notice this point”, he added.

He also contradicted the numbers announced by Irancell and said 16,751 MCI subscribers requested to move to Irancell’s network and 43% of the registered requests were fulfilled.

Bahadori claimed that instead of the 5,294 registered incoming transactions from Irancell to MCI, the true number has been 13,139 and contrary to the numbers reported by Irancell, only 26% of the requests were fulfilled.

Many expect the CRA to intervene and put an end to the dispute by announcing official statistics. Although Sadeq Abbasi, an official with CRA, dismissed both stats by stressing that CRA is the only reliable source for MNP statistics.

During an interview, he said the number of subscribers transferred between Irancell and MCI has been roughly even.

He also dismissed some operators’ claims about customers making an about turn after experiencing their rival’s services.

Some operators have claimed that 20% of the subscribers within a week of moving their number to the network of their rivals canceled their MNP registration and returned to using the services of the original operator.

However, one frustrated MCI consumer who spoke to the Financial Tribune on anonymity, said “This is a … joke. When I registered to switch networks, Irancell, said I wasn’t me, or that I didn’t live in my own home. Then after rejecting my transfer request, I received not one, but two confirmation codes by MCI!”


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