Galloping wireless growth drives Indian telecoms sector

6 Jan 2006

India added 3.187 million new GSM mobile subscribers in December to take the country’s total to 58.503 million, reports the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Market leader Bharti Tele-Ventures added 911,148 GSM users in December, boosting its total to 16.327 million, whilst second-placed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) signed up 1.01 million users, taking its GSM user base to 14.298 million. Hutchison added 730,763 new subs in December to reach a total of 11.413 million. According to telecoms regulator the TRAI, the additions take the country’s total number of mobile customers, including CDMA users, to 75.92 million. New CDMA mobile subscribers in December totalled 1.27 million, with the majority signing up to largest CDMA provider Reliance Infocomm and main rival Tata Teleservices.

There is still huge potential for growth in the wireless market, with less than 8% of Indians using mobile services, and networks covering only an estimated third of the country. India currently has the world’s lowest mobile call rates, at an average of less than USD0.02 per minute.

Meanwhile, 460,000 new fixed line subscribers were added in December, predominantly in the CDMA-based WiLL sector, taking India’s total number of fixed lines in operation to 48.93 million, up from 44.87 million at the end of 2004.