India Adds 10.4M Mobile Subs in October

Demand for mobile connections just keeps on rising in India, where a further 10.42 million connections were added during October, according to the latest figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

In September, 10.07 million mobile lines were activated, while August saw 9.16 million new wireless connections. (See India: Still Booming, Attracting Investment.)

At the end of October, the total number of wireless connections (GSM, CDMA and wireless local loop) was 325.73 million.

India has added 92.1 million new wireless connections since the beginning of 2008.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) is still the country's largest single mobile carrier by subscriber numbers, boasting 80.2 million customers at the end of October. Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) is the second largest with 57.8 million, and Vodafone India a close third with 56.7 million. (See table below.)

Table 1: India Mobile Operator Rankings, Oct 2008
Operator Number of wireless subscribers at the end of October 2008
Bharti Airtel 80.2 million
Reliance Communications 57.8 million
Vodafone Essar 56.7 million
BSNL 44.6 million
IDEA Cellular 31.6 million
Tata Teleservices 30.2 million
Aircel 14.7 million
MTNL 4.0 million
Spice Telecom 3.6 million
BPL Mobile 1.8 million
HFCL Infotel 0.4 million
Shyam Telelink 0.2 million
Source: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

And there's still plenty of growth left in the Indian market, as the operators are building out their rural coverage in a bid to connect with as many of the country's 1.2 billion inhabitants as possible. That potential growth, and the impending auction of 3G spectrum, is attracting international firms to invest in India's wireless license holders. (See NTT Takes $2.7B Stake in Tata, Telenor Takes Mobile Stake in India, India Edges Closer to 3G, and Sistema Adds to Shyam Stake.)

To find out more about India's wireless carriers, check out our Guide to India's Telecom Operators.

While the Indian population has a seemingly unquenchable thirst for mobile connectivity, the same can't be said for fixed line services. The number of fixed line connections in India fell by 130,000 during October to 38.22 million.

Despite that fall, the number of broadband connections (anything that delivers more than 256 Kbit/s) increased by 150,000 during October, reaching 5.05 million by the end of the month, according to the TRAI. At the beginning of 2008, India had just 3.13 million broadband lines.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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