According to statistics released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), by the end of November India was home to 9.73 million mobile subscribers, having added 753,432 users in that month alone; the year-on-year growth rate stood at a healthy 86%. Bharti Televentures [Bombay:BRTI.BO] remains the country’s leading cellco with 2.65 million users, equivalent to a market share of 27.3%, but November saw certain major players expand their footprints into new circles. Idea Cellular, which is jointly owned by AT&T Wireless, the Birla conglomerate and the Tata Group, launched services in New Delhi, becoming the fourth operator to compete in that market, while state-owned fixed line giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) expanded its mobile offering to almost the entire country, ending the month with 182,828 subscribers, up from 19,345 at the end of October.
Keen to establish a strong presence in the mobile market, BSNL announced yesterday that it had signed a USD33 million contract with Motorola for the expansion of its GSM network in the south of the country. Under the terms of the deal Motorola will install a GSM network in the metro region of Chennai and expand its existing network in the Andhra Pradesh circle; BSNL is licensed to offer cellular telephony throughout India, with the exception of the New Delhi and Mumbai metros, which fall under the jurisdiction of sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL).The work is scheduled for completion in April 2003 and will provide BSNL with the capacity for an additional 313,000 users in a further nine cities, including Hyderabad. Motorola claims that 40% of all Indian mobile subscribers use its networks and this latest deal makes the vendor the first to install networks in all four metros.