EghtesadOnline: The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology released the first report on mobile number porting (MNP).
When MNP was launched in Iran last August it was sold to the public as a means for keeping their mobile number while also moving to a competitors’ service.
The data covers six months from June-December 2016, Fars News Agency reported.
The three major mobile network operators, Mobile Telecommunications Company of Iran or Hamrah-e-Aval (MCI), MTN-Irancell and RighTel are currently the only providers allowed to offer the service. Taliya with its few thousand customers are barred, Financial Tribune reported.
MCI Leads Operators
A little over 46 million SIMs sold by MCI are in active use since the company was born in the 1990s. More precisely 15.2 million contract SIMs and 31.1 million pay-as-you-go SIM cards are actively used.
The operator later reached a 59.23% penetration rate which increased by 3.21% since the launch of the MNP.
In other words MTN-Irancell and RighTel subscribers were quite happy to leave their operators and join MCI, contrary to what many thought would happen when the scheme first started.
The results add since MCI start date the state-owned company sold a total of 65.8 million SIMs.
MCI’s biggest competitor meanwhile is catching up. The partly-South African owned MTN-Irancell now has more than 31.4 million SIMs in use daily and the second operator has a 39.45% penetration rate nationwide.
After the launch of the network switching service the operator’s penetration rate increased a paltry 0.61%. The report does not mention the names of the original operators from which the ported numbers came.
There are 314,363 contract SIMS and 31.1 million pay-as-you-go Irancell cards in active use. By December 20, Irancell had issued a total of 78.9 million SIM cards since its birth in 2005.
Reports suggest that users are attracted to Irancell’s newly-introduced 4.5G Internet services.
Rightel a Distant Third
Lastly, 1.9 million SIMs sold by RighTel, the third Iranian operator, are currently in use. Of this number, 47,081 are contract SIMs, 1.7 million are pay-as-you-go connections and 160,214 are data-only connections.
Unlike the first two operators, the penetration rate of RighTel dropped after the MNP plan was launched. With a 0.25% fall, the operator’s penetration rate was 2.48% by December 20.
RighTel is known to sell the most expensive services among all three operators and has the weakest mobile signals outside urban areas.
The third operator, which is semi-private, sold 6.8 million SIMs since it was launched in 2013. RighTel was the only service provider to lose more subscribers than win new clients after the MNP came into existence.
The Financial Tribune reported in October that 4,000-5,000 MNP requests had been registered on a daily basis after its official launch.
Rising demand for the service, poor and insufficient infrastructure plus operators’ fear of losing customers to rivals made a mess of the national scheme which was initially designed to boost the domestic telecom sector.
MCI 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. This claim cannot be verified. Others told the Tribune that many of their requests to change networks were ignored by the original operator despite receiving a confirmed SMS.
According to available data, operators sold a combined 151.68 million SIMs, 80.6 million which are in active use since cellphone service commenced in Iran in the mid-1990s.