Today, Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR), the United States’ Local Number Portability (LNP) Administrator, released a newly commissioned white paper that compares the number portability systems in India and the United States. This paper is the next installment in a series of papers looking at the importance and complexity of the local number portability system in the United States. Authored by W. Bruce Allen, a Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting professor at the Indian School of Business, the paper reviews India’s Mobile Number Portability (MNP) system and finds that significant differences exist between India’s model and the portability system in the United States.
The paper evaluates the characteristics of each nation’s telecommunications market and draws comparisons based on the characteristics of consumer demand, the porting process itself, and the wider communications infrastructure. The paper finds that the major differences between the United States and India markets include: the preponderance of prepaid services in India (versus a preference for post-paid in the U.S.); the dominance of 2G services in India compared to the advancements in 3G and 4G in the U.S.; the use of wireless handsets that support multiple carriers in India, as compared to the U.S. where services and devices are generally bundled together; and the much higher churn rate in India as consumers switch to lower-cost plans.
Together these factors contribute to a number portability system that is vastly different from the United States’ portability infrastructure, where consumers place a higher value on keeping their phone numbers when they switch service providers. Additionally, the paper finds that India’s MNP system, which launched in January 2011, has sparked a high volume of consumer complaints related to porting delays and rejections.
The paper concludes: “The United States and India are both large democracies with growing telecom markets, but the factors which drive a successful mobile number portability experience could not be more distinct between the two countries. Therefore, regulators and service providers should rely solely on the characteristics of their respective markets when making decisions regarding number portability in the future.”