Iran’s first mobile network operator MCI or AKA Hamrah Aval will lose big after the mobile number portability (MNP) rule gets enabled.

Mobile Number Portability  enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers, and change to a different mobile network operator with the old number. That means MCI users could keep their number with their MCI operator code but use a different network. MNP is a regulation created with the purpose of boosting the service quality of mobile network operators. With this act, any user that is not satisfied with the service quality he or she is getting can switch to another operating network while keeping the current phone number.

A dig in MCI’s history

MCI use to be the only mobile operator network in Iran untill the arrival of MTN’s Irancell back in 2006. Before that MCI’s sim card would sell +$100 each. Depending on the number, the price would be anywhere from $100 to $3000 or even more. Irancell introduced it’s $5 debit sim cards in 2006. Irancell also introduced mobile internet for the very first time in Iran. This caused Irancell to swiftly gain massive amount of users.

Why would MCI users switch to a different network?

When the new competitor joined in MCI was forced to compete. IT initiated its rebranding process to Hamrah Aval and introduced new services over time but always being one step behind. However, MCI numbers still had certain value and it still had good reception comparing to its competitors. MCI’s numbers starting with the operator code of 0912 which is MCI’s Tehran city code become expensive by the day. First digit of the number indicated the price tier with lower numbers like 1 and 2 being the most expensive. First mobile users in Iran had their mobile numbers starting from 1 which was considered as a special number socially.Oddly, In Iran’s business world having a 0912 number with a number starting with 1 was a symbol of creditability. Even though MCI competitor’s gave better services, this companies users still hold on to their sim cards. Due to the fact that it is a monthly billed network operator it was always easier for the users to use this operator, though Irancell and Rightel also provide monthly belling programs other than their debit sim cards.

Looking at the internet service qualities the three mobile network operators in Iran provide, MCI is at the bottom of the list in terms of internet quality and accessibility. Multiple surveys done in the country indicates that when the regulators enable MNP, many MCI users will switch their network to either Irancell or Rightel. A survey done by Zoomit, a local technology blog, showed only 8.4% of the people interviews were fully satisfied by MCI and about 64  % have a high chance of changing their mobile network operator.

MCI in deep trouble

According to Sadegh Abbasi, deputy of radio communications regulatory “The mobile number portability (MNP) has been agreed on by all mobile network operators and will be fully functional by the help of these mobile operators”. Abbasi announced this after a request from MCI to postpone this act because of a “technical issue”. Abbasi strictly mentioned that this act will not be postponed and will be operational according to schedule.

MCI still is the country’s largest operating network with the largest mobile users. However if the company wants to keep it’s customers it has to a little a more than thanking its users. MCI has also removed its speed limitations on its internet packages to further maintain its once MNP is enabled.

Such acts like MNP have great role in forcing mobile operating networks to boost their service qualities. In this case it seems that it’s paying off.

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