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EghtesadOnline: Users of the partly South African-owned MTN-Irancell company are dropping out of the mobile network service at an unprecedented rate, while the older and bigger Mobile Communications of Iran (MCI) is benefiting from a bigger clientele, according to data released this week by Iran’s Information Technology Organization.

Mobile number portability (MNP) enables mobile phone users to retain their numbers while changing from one mobile network operator to another. In theory, the first company should offer details of the client to the second.

The number transfer service was launched in July 2016 to promote competition between Iranian mobile network operators, CITNA reported on Sunday.

According to the numbers released, MCI has seen the biggest gains since the MNP service was launched, with 71,033 users switching from MTN-Irancell and smaller operator RighTel and losing 52,561 people over the period. In all, MCI gained an additional 18,472 users (up 26%), Financial Tribune reported.

MTN-Irancell, the second biggest operator, saw its users move to MCI, with 74,479 people leaving the network and 57,473 joining the operator. It has seen a loss of 17,003 people through the period (down 22%).

Meanwhile, RighTel which opened in 2013, also saw a net loss in retention rate. Overall, 23,182 people joined RighTel, while 24,651 left the network (down 6.3%).

The resounding success of MCI to poach customers from its rivals shows that despite being the older service, and offering fewer incentives than its main rival MTN-Irancell, MCI’s pull is still the biggest among local operators.

To activate the service, applicants can personally refer to the customer service offices of the operators or via their websites.

However, the statistics may not be 100% reliable since operators have a history of giving contradictory reports over MNP services in the past.

MCI MTN-Irancell Iran mobile network service Mobile Communications of Iran