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One in ten users have switched telecom providers in UAE


New study measures impact of mobile number portability on local market.

January 15, 2014 10:04 by

Since mobile number portability (MNP), a feature that allows users to switch between service providers while holding on to the same number, approximately one in 10 mobile users have already registered to make the switch.

According to a recent survey by AMRB, a Dubai-based research and consulting firm, 60 per cent of the 500 UAE mobile users surveyed were aware that MNP was being introduced.

Awareness was slightly lower among Etisalat subscribers (58 per cent) when compared to du customers (62 per cent), which indicates that the latter’s marketing efforts have paid off.

Approximately 23 per cent of subscribers expressed high likelihood of utilising MNP in the near future.

While this poll is based on a relatively small sample size, the results contradict figures released last week by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Mohammed Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, confirmed that merely 5,000 requests to transfer numbers have been received since MNP was introduced.

The poll further notes that awareness among Asian subscribers was particularly high at 63 per cent, compared with approximately 50 per cent among both Arabs and Westerners.

The propensity to shift service providers was particularly higher among Arab expats, with one third expressing high likelihood to shift, compared with 22 per cent of Asian subscribers.

Those who have been with a particular network for more than two years were slightly more likely to utilise MNP. However, there was no considerable difference between pre-paid or post-paid subscribers in terms of their reaction to MNP.

For du subscribers considering making the switch to Etisalat, the main driver is expectation of ‘better network coverage’.

In the case of Etisalat customers wanting to make the switch to du, the majority cite ‘better prices and packages for voice calls’ as the key reason to shift.

Based on the results of the study, customer service is an important deciding factor, with 46 per cent of du customers and 39 per cent of Etisalat customers claiming to be unsatisfied with their current service provider.

According to the study, the implementation of MNP globally has been driven by the need to decrease market prices, to facilitate market competition and to improve consumer welfare.

Sukhdev Singh, associate vice-president of AMRB Dubai believes that the success or failure of MNP will ultimately depend on the time taken to change from one provider to the other, as well as the switching costs involved, adding that while this may largely be dictated by the TRA, telcos that are able to provide a more efficient process are likely to gain more.

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