DTAC getting ready for mobile number portability

Telenor’s mobile-phone operation in Thailand, DTAC, is confident that the company can keep its premium customers when mobile number portability (MNP) is launched in Thailand.
     MNP, which gives the possibility of keeping cell-phone numbers when changing to another operator, is expected to lead to more users switching service providers.
     Thailand’s English-language daily The Nation quoted Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Surapong Suebwonglee as saying the service would give mobile-phone users more convenience and flexibility in choosing the best service package for them.
     DTAC has voiced strong support for MNP as it benefits users. It believes that the policy will be enacted soon as required by the Telecommunications Act. The company, now the number two player in the Thai market, is already taking steps to hold on to its customers.
     According to The Nation, DTAC’s Norwegian co-chief executive Sigve Brekke said on September 10 that his company had four months earlier started moving to ensure that its prized post-paid customers stay aboard, both to boost revenue and cope with the eventual implementation of MNP.
     DTAC’s post-paid customers are divided into large companies, small- and medium-scale enterprises and retail customers, with an executive in charge of each segment. Corporate customers are further split into five industrial groups – service, finance, state enterprise, manufacturing and retail – for whom DTAC has appointed executives to oversee closely and customise solutions to fit their demands. Loyalty programmes have also been developed to retain premium customers and executive premium customers.
     “All of these make us feel confident that we can keep premium customers with us when number portability is launched one day,” said Sunti Medhavikul, DTAC’s director of post-paid phone business.
     DTAC’s post-paid users make up only a fifth of the firm’s six-million-strong user base, but they contribute half of its revenue, the newspaper report continues. The average monthly churn rate today stands at two percent.
     However, MNP would have to be adopted over the objections of market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS), which has argued that the industry should not have to absorb the high cost of upgrading networks when there is no shortage of phone numbers.
     Brekke said the investment is not significant. Norway’s major telecom firm Telenor spent only Bt300 million on its upgrade, and whether the country actually has insufficient mobile-phone numbers has nothing to do with MNP.
     “We also have no plan to pass the cost of upgrading to consumers,” he added, suggesting that all mobile-phone carriers pool their money to spend on the upgrade.
     Experience in other markets shows that dominant players always object to MNP, realising that they stand to risk the most in losing customers to rivals, he commented.
     There is also nothing difficult about employing MNP, he said. “We need a strong market regulator to handle the task in a professional manner.”
     Hong Kong, which ordered all telecoms to offer MNP in 1999, is the most successful in terms of promoting MNP as the regulator is very strong.

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