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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s second largest mobile operator MTN-Irancell has refuted claims that the company is losing ground to its rival Mobile Communications of Iran (MCI), known locally as Hamrah-e-Avval.

Data reported by CITNA recently had showed that subscribers of the partly South African-owned MTN are dropping out of the mobile network service at an unprecedented rate, and moving to MCI.

The data was attributed to Paya Communications Ltd, the firm in charge of the Mobile Number Porting (MNP) project, which allows mobile subscribers to switch networks and take their mobile number with them.

 The Initial Report

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

MTN-Irancell, the second biggest operator, saw most of 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%).

 MTN-Irancell’s Response

Now MTN-Irancell, in a statement citing Paya as the source of the numbers, says CITNA’s report was based on “poor calculations” which portrayed MCI in a better light.

The statement further said that 105,974 MCI users had registered with the company to switch to Irancell during the nine-month period.

Irancell also provided statistics to show that the company has complied with 86.8% of the requests made by its subscribers to move to MCI.

This is while 57.5% of MCI users have not been able to switch operators, only receiving messages from the company that their “requests are being processed,” but beyond that the users have failed to hear back from MCI.

Additionally, MTN-Irancell referred to a customer satisfaction index on the MNP service.

Citing a survey conducted by the Communications Regulatory Authority, (CRA) the industry’s ombudsman, the operator noted that “only 23% of MCI users have been satisfied with the MNP service” while 86% of Irancell users have deemed the service satisfactory.

 Media Backlash

Following Irancell’s criticism of the latest numbers, CITNA published an article accusing the operator of prodding their own statistics.

CITNA citing Paya said that the numbers reported by Irancell do not correlate with the original statistics.

The original report by the technology news agency puts the number of users who requested to move from Irancell to MCI at 103,573. The number is 31,061 higher than what MTN-Irancell reported in its statement, it said.

Furthermore, according to CITNA, only 36% of the requests registered with MCI to switch to Irancell have failed. Although this rate is high, it is 21% lower than what Irancell reported.

The news agency addressing the “customer satisfaction index”, said according to their statistics, only 120 people participated in the survey, “therefore the results cannot be reliable.”

In addition to Irancell’s claims about MCI meddling in the MNP implementation, CITNA writes, “If Irancell has any legitimate backing for its claims, it should approach the CRA.”

 General View

While Irancell recently launched several offers apparently aimed at disrupting MCI’s lead, the company still remains in second place even after rolling out 3 and 4G services that are faster than MCI services.  

According to the latest official statistics, MCI has 15.2 million active contract SIMs, and 31.1 million pay-as-you-go SIMs.

This is while Irancell has 31.4 million active subscribers with a 39.4% share of the mobile operator market.

MCI Irancell MTN-Irancell Iran mobile operator Mobile Communications of Iran Hamrah-e-Avval