Mobile phone firms go all out to woo other’s customers

January 25th, 2011 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Priyanka Sahay
New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Telcom firms have launched a major advertising, marketing and promotional blitz to attract new and existing customers after the government launched a pan-India scheme that allows them to switch operators while retaining the numbers.Although mobile number portability may not be a big game changer for the industry, it is certainly proving to be a boon for customers giving them the freedom to shift networks, as companies are not just improving their service but also throwing in freebies.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), for example, has waived the porting charges and is offering a SIM card free of cost along with an additional talk value of Rs.100 for pre-paid customers who switch to their service from other operators.

Post-paid customers moving to BSNL will get 50 percent rebate on their first bill.

Idea Cellular, the first telcom operator which started campaigning for the service, has not announced any special offers for the customers, but it is making its presence with its round the clock “No Idea, Get Idea” campaigns.

“We have not launched any special tariff; however, our focus is to provide good network and customer services. We are confident that the large number of customers who want better network will switch to Idea,” said Rajat Mukarji corporate affairs officer Idea Cellular.

However, the industry biggie, Bharti Airtel, has not gone full throttle on promotional campaigns. The company is restricting itself to a few offers like the “Airtel surprise” for customers who switch to its network free talktime, special call rates and free SMS.

Unlike Idea Cellular’s campaigns citing negativities of the other networks, Airtel has taken a much softer approach with the punch line which says, “Move to Airtel. Bring your old number along.”

Vodafone, known for its distinct advertising campaigns, too is not as aggressive as Idea. Its “everybody’s welcome” television commercials are cute and feature the face of its promotional activities — a pug.

One of the biggest players in the industry, Reliance Communications has also launched a slew of television ad campaigns to promote its network and attract customers after the launch of number portability service across the country.

“Global experience shows customers are keen on porting to a service provider offering better network quality, full suite of voice and data products, superior experience and enriched value-added offers,” said Mahesh Prasad, president of Reliance Communications.

New telecom players such as Tata DoCoMo have also started campaigns with tags such as “Welcome to the world of freedom, welcome to the world of Tata DoCoMo”.

To make it easy for the customers to port into their networks, the operators have also created helpline numbers. These are toll free services created to address the queries of the customers.

To avail himself of the service, a customer has to pay a maximum of Rs.19 to the new operator for “porting” the number and remain with the new operator for at least three months.

The customer has to send an SMS from the existing phone to 1900. Based on this, a unique porting code will be sent by existing provider. An application then has to be filed with the new service provider mentioning the code for transferring the connection.

The maximum waiting period for porting is fixed at seven working days. But the number may remain out of service for just two hours.

India currently has over 700 million mobile phone users, making the network the largest in the world after China but ahead of the US. The country has been adding 15-18 million new mobile phone connections to the network every month.

(Priyanka Sahay can be reached at

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