Recently, DoT selected Telcordia Technologies to provide solutions for implementation of mobile number portability in the eastern and southern states in the country. Telcordia is the world’s leading provider of MNP services and has solutions deployed across nine countries, including the US, Canada, Egypt, Greece and South Africa. We spoke to president and global CEO of Telcordia, Mark Greenquist about the specific challenges of number portability in the Indian market. Excerpts
How does mobile number portability (MNP) actually work?
In MNP, the subscriber becomes the owner of the telephone number irrespective of the service provider. We at Telcordia, along with our partners will facilitate the movement of the subscriber from one service to another.
|Mark Greenquist, president and global CEO, Telcordia|
In order to get the number portability service running, it is not just the vendor who might want the clearing house but the service provider has a very, very important role to play to decide on the system. They also have to participate and that is one of the reasons why it takes a while to make it happen because there are a lot of different entities involved-vendors, service providers and the regulator. We all have to get together and eventually work out the details of exactly how the final process will work.
What are the challenges associated with implementation of number portability in India?
There are a number of challenges, but the biggest challenge is to work out the details as to how exactly the process is going to work. We are really trying to bring together different parties to agree on exactly how it is going to work. Our experience is that it is perhaps less of a technical challenge and more of a process challenge and we have a lot of experience in that to ensure that India has a successful launch.
India is different from the other markets that we have worked in terms of the size. The country also has a large number of mobile service providers so that you have a lot of competition. What that means is that the task of getting number portability working here not only requires a platform that can scale to a very big size but that can handle the complexity of so many service providers.
A number of greenfield operators are going to enter the Indian market. How do you think the market is likely to evolve with number portability also coming in?
The key thing about number portability is that it offers a level playing field so that when a new operator enters the market and their service is uniquely tailored and you (the subscriber) is not going to be inhibited in choosing the new service provider because you are going to lose your number. So, for a new operator this is going to be a very important development.
What we have seen in other countries is that big service providers also find number portability important. For instance, when AT&T introduced iPhone in the US, one of the reasons why they were able to sell so many of them was because a subscriber was able to walk into an Apple store, buy iPhone and immediately port your number. So within a day it was working with your phone number. So large service providers are going to find that number portability can be a unique feature if they have a really unique proposition or a handset because they would be able to get that many customers on to it much more quickly.
What kind of investment does number portability require from the service provider?
A service provider would need to have a gateway into the clearing house and make some changes to some of their back office systems. Apart from that a fair amount of testing is also involved in setting up the system for number portability. The bulk of the effort is to stand up the clearing house itself and the data center. It calls for a fair amount of investment by all the parties.
How important is the Indian market for you? How much does it contribute to your revenue?
We have been doing business for a long time in India, and we have a big presence here. It is definitely less than 10% but more than 5% of our total revenue. I do see it increasing substantially and that is why I am here.
As of now we have not come across any service provider in the Indian market reducing the capex, but it is a global phenomenon and it is going to affect everybody. Service providers all over the world as well as in India are going to be cautious about spending.
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