According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the national teledensity rate in India reached 7% at the end of November, meeting its planned goal more than twelve months early. The government has been heavily involved in an initiative aimed at increasing the number of both fixed and mobile lines for the last few years: it had hoped to increase the penetration rate to 7% by the start of 2005, rising to 15% by 2010, but the rapid growth in the number of cellular subscribers during 2003 has meant that it will easily surpass both goals. In light of the rapid expansion, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which operates in both the wireline and wireless markets, has announced plans to up its overall market share to over 25%. The company has earmarked USD2.2 billion for investment in the 2004 fiscal year and hopes to achieve growth of 100% in its mobile customer base during the twelve month period. At the end of October 2003 the operator had 34.86 million fixed line subscribers and 44.57 million mobile users.
Meanwhile, AirTel, the mobile subsidiary of Bharti Televentures has also revealed plans for expansion. The cellco is currently awaiting approval from the country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to operate in the circles of Jammu, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh (East), Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and said that it plans to invest USD155 million in its network if its licence applications are granted. AirTel currently operates in 15 circles and claimed a customer base of over five million at the end of October 2003