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|
|Sistema (MTS India)||0.47||5.1||0.80%|
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