Reliance loses 1 mn customers to mobile number portability

The Reliance Communications website describes itself as India’s number one network. It certainly isn’t if you consider the number of subscribers it has lost in the first five months since the mobile number portability (MNP) facility was introduced in India – it lost a whopping 1,166,643 net subscribers till June 30.

Reliance’s loss is more than double the second company in the dubious rankings – state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which lost 573,142 subscribers. The third is Tata Teleservices Limited, 376,707 of whose clients migrated to other service providers.

Reliance Communications: Not quite number one

Reliance Communications: Not quite number one

MNP was introduced as a pilot programme in Haryana on November 25 2010, and in the rest of the country on January 20 this year.

These are certainly bad times for the Ambani brothers, in this case Anil, whose Reliance Communications, or RCom for all practical purposes, has been caught in the 2G scam.

When the undivided Reliance group had introduced its mobile services in 2003, you were not considered to be very happening if you didn’t have one of its obscene-looking handsets in your grip. But things certainly have changed since those days.

Today, RCom is just not hip, Anil Ambani is having to visit his top executives in Tihar Jail, and MNP has to an extent ensured that if you give a damn about your customers, they will sooner or later pay you back.

Mobile service operators had to oppose MNP facilities tooth and nail when it was still in a proposal stage. They all knew how appalling their own services were, and each was unwilling to lose customers. Finally, they had to bow down to the wishes of the government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

It was not a question of how better your services were over that of others, but whether your rival was worse than you when it came to customer care and services. Now, thanks to the statistics provided by the Union Minister for Telecom Kapil Sibal in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, we certainly know who the worst of the lot are.

The lesser evil seems to be Idea Mobile Communications which was able to increase its subscriber base by 824,845. Vodafone came next with 711,135, followed by Bharti Airtel Limited 650,599.