India Adds 18M Subs in June

Another 18 million mobile connections were activated in India during June, taking the country's total to 635.5 million, according to the latest figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

India now has a mobile penetration rate of 53.8 percent and an overall teledensity of 56.8 percent.

With many people in the country's main metro areas already connected, much of the mobile growth is now coming in India's smaller cities, towns, and rural areas. Of the 18 million connections added in June, 7 million were in B circles (service areas) and 5.9 million in A circles. (For a map of India's circles, see our special feature, A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)

Mobile market leader Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) signed up the most new customers in June, with 3 million additions, taking its total mobile customer base to 136.6 million for a market share of 21.5 per cent. Reliance Communications Ltd. added 2.83 million to reach 110.8 million customers for a 17.44 percent market share, while Vodafone India activated 2.71 million lines, taking its total to 109 million for a 17.16 percent share of the market.

Of the country's mobile newcomers, Uninor , which launched its services in December 2009, added an impressive 1 million new customers, taking its total beyond 6 million, while Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. , which launched in April this year, gained nearly 550,000 new accounts to reach almost 2 million customers. (See Uninor Launches in India.)

Table 1: India Mobile Operator Subscribers and Market Share, June 2010
In millions Number of new mobile connections Total mobile connections Market share
Bharti Airtel 3.00 136.6 21.50%
Reliance Communications 2.83 110.8 17.44%
Vodafone Essar 2.71 109.1 17.16%
BSNL 1.01 72.7 11.44%
Tata Teleservices 2.33 72.5 11.41%
Idea Cellular 2.16 68.9 10.84%
Aircel 1.60 41.7 6.56%
Uninor 1.01 6.0 0.95%
MTNL 0.04 5.2 0.82%
Sistema (MTS India) 0.47 5.1 0.80%
Loop Mobile 0.02 2.9 0.46%
Videocon 0.55 1.9 0.31%
Stel 0.09 1.3 0.21%
HFCL 0.15 0.7 0.11%
Etisalat DB 0.01 0.02 0.003%
Total 17.98 635.5 100%
Source: TRAI

These numbers represent the number of connections activated, but it's not known how many of the lines are in current use.

While still clearly in growth mode, the Indian mobile market is set for significant change in the coming year, with more widespread competitive 3G services and the introduction of mobile number portability, which will enable users to churn between service providers and retain their existing number -- something not currently possible in India. (See India's 3G Players Ready for Swift Launch and Will Churn Burn India's Mobile Operators?)

Mobile number portability (MNP) should have been introduced already but has been postponed a number of times because some operators -- most notably the two state-owned operators, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) -- have not had the required technology in place. (See MNP Delayed Again.) Now, according to The Times of India, the latest deadline for introducing MNP, October 31, might also be missed as BSNL and MTNL, which between them have nearly 78 million mobile lines activated, are still not nearly ready.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Sunderjeet 12/5/2012 | 4:28:55 PM
re: India Adds 18M Subs in June

These numbers look facinating (18M is more than half the total Canadian subscriber base, a market with one of the highest ARPUs in the world). But i feel its time that operators start looking beyond war for subscribers. Certainly, these B/C circles are not going to fetch much of revenues. And there are already heavy debts of recently concluded 3G licenses. It will be intersting to see where operators will use their 3G spectrum - new data services or compensate for the shortage of 2G waves.  

Gagandeep Kaur 12/5/2012 | 4:28:52 PM
re: India Adds 18M Subs in June

You are right, a good amount of 3G spectrum is likely to be used for voice and not data. In fact the price of 3G spectrum went up so high because of spectrum scarcity. Going forward, I believe QoS is going to emerge as a key differentiating factor. The operators are going to come up with differentiated services even for voice--maybe high ARPU customer gets premium quality etc etc.

Sunderjeet 12/5/2012 | 4:28:51 PM
re: India Adds 18M Subs in June

I would have reservations if somebody would actually pay for QoS espl for a commodity service such as Voice. Its like selling femtocell to improve indoor coverage. I guess a good quality is implicit and very basic when one purchase a service. So selling on QoS would be very tricky. Having said that, one could certainly sell a good quality 3G data connection (over plain GPRS) since you have speed as the clear differentiator. With outburst of smartphones, i would say data boom in india (espl metros) is a sure shot for future growth. Operators would likely target youth centric data plans (IM + Social Networking + Streaming)

Gagandeep Kaur 12/5/2012 | 4:28:44 PM
re: India Adds 18M Subs in June

With rock bottom tariffs and call drops being the order of the day, subscribers wont mind paying a bit extra for a connection which actually allows them to communicate without any disturbances. As of now good quality is not a basic in India. You are right about data growth, which is just waiting to happen. main users of mobile Internet services in India are young people...See this:

Report: Mobile Internet yet to take off in India


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