An interesting discrepancy

Russia introduced mobile number portability (MNP) last December following months of discussions focusing on the general evilness of what Russian media called mobile slavery, which means losing one’s number when switching mobile carriers. According to a 2013 poll, 54% of Russians were going to take advantage of MNP, that is to switch operators while keeping their old cell numbers. According to an August 2014 poll, about half of Russians are still planning to do that.

All very good in theory but in the 10 months since the law took effect, less than one million subscribers have asked to keep their number when changing providers.

Russia has about 240 million subscribers, that is to say, 240 million nominally active SIM cards. I understand that calculating churn rates is no easy task if prepaid calls and lack of long-term contacts are the norm. If you don’t like your provider, you use up the balance on your SIM, buy a new card from another provider and put the old one in a drawer, just in case. It may take months for the old SIM to be pronounced statistically dead. But from what I’ve heard, I would be surprised if less than 10 million subscribers changed providers in any given year. If so, it looks like 10-15% of them are taking advantage of MNP. The rest don’t seem to care.

That’s no surprise to me but surely a surprise to those who relied on the polls claiming half of Russians were impatiently waiting for MNP. Perhaps it’s still too early to judge, or perhaps poll results should not always be taken at face value.

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