India Adds 8.6M Mobile Subs in May

India's operators added 8.61 million mobile subscribers in May, based on data compiled by the Cellular Operators Association of India and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) .

The numbers show 6.14 million of the new subscribers are on GSM-based networks and the other 1.99 million use CDMA.

The industry ended the month with a total of 272.71 million mobile subscribers, of which 205.46 million were on the country's nine GSM networks represented by the COAI and 7.25 million were on its four CDMA networks represented by the AUSPI. (See A Guide to India's Telecom Operators.)

Table 1: Indian Mobile Subscribers in May 2008
April Subscribers May Subscribers May Additions
GSM 198,839,944 205,460,762 6,620,818
CDMA 65,254,818 67,248,349 1,993,531
Total 264,094,762 272,709,111 8,614,349
Source: Cellular Operators Association of India and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India

Market leader Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) signed up 2.46 million new subscribers to take its mobile subscriber base to 66.8 million.

Vodafone India , which has the third largest market share, is nipping at the heels of second place Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) . Vodafone ended the month with 47.5 million subscribers to Reliance’s 48.7 million and beat out Reliance in new additions with 1.69 million compared to the latter’s 1.62 million.

Idea Cellular Ltd. and Spice Telecom , which are in the middle of merger talks, added 1.1 million and 134,000 new subscribers, respectively. (See M&A Speculation Swirls Spice, Telkom.)

State-run carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) continues to lag behind its rivals in adding customers -– it signed up 314,000 and actually lost subscribers in three of its 21 service areas. BSNL is inviting bids on large-scale network expansion contracts to boost capacity beyond its current 37 million GSM subscribers, with the deadline coming up in mid-July. (See BSNL Floats New Mega GSM Tender.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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