Around 10 per cent of mobile users in the UAE have registered to change their telecom operator since the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP), according to a new survey by research consultancy AMRB.
The study, which polled 500 mobile users in the country, found around 23 per cent of mobile subscribers expressed a ‘high likelihood’ of switching their operator in the future.
The UAE recently introduced the MNP service, which allows users to switch operators while retaining their number. The move is expected to boost competition among telcos in the local market.
According to the AMRB survey, subscribers who have been using a network for less than two years are likely to use the MNP service while the propensity to shift to a new service provider was higher among expat Arabs.
Around 56 per cent of du subscribers said that they considered changing to Etisalat, expecting better network coverage. Almost 47 per cent of Etisalat customers said that they want to switch operators due to better prices and packages for calls, AMRB said.
Customer service was another major reason to swap operators since 46 per cent and 39 per cent of the du and Etisalat customers said that they were dissatisfied with their current operator.
The survey also found that 60 per cent of the UAE’s mobile users are aware of the MNP service in the market.
“The success or failure of MNP will ultimately depend upon the time taken to change from one telco to the other, as well as the switching cost involved,” said Sukhdev Singh, associate vice president, AMRB Dubai.
“While this may largely be dictated by the TRA, telcos that are able to provide a more efficient process and also better value are likely to gain more from the introduction of MNP.
“While the UAE telco market is poised for significant churn in the near term, over the longer horizon, introduction of MNP is a positive step that would lead to greater competition between Mobile Service Providers (MSPs), which would ultimately benefit the consumers”, he said.
Mohammed Al Ghanim, the director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had recently told media that over 5,000 requests to switch operators have been placed since the MNP service was launched on December 30, 2013. However, he refused to reveal the number of users who have successfully swapped.
Around 70 countries, including markets such as Egypt, Pakistan and India, implemented the MNP service by the end of 2012, he said.