This means India's mobile operators collectively added a staggering 178.26 million new lines during 2009, having ended 2008 with 346.89 million mobile users. (See IndiaWatch: Mobile Nears 347M Subs.)
So, on average, India's mobile carriers added 14.86 million new connections per month, or more than 488,000 each day of the year.
And if you really want to know how many that is per hour, it's 20,349. (You can work out the per-minute figure yourselves. And if you're wondering about the per-second figure, call a therapist...)
Anyway, the point is, a lot of people in India got a new mobile connection in 2009.
The ramp in mobile users, offset only a smidgen by a tiny fall (100,000) in the number of fixed line users to 37.06 million, gave India an aggregate of 562.21 million telephony lines. That, in turn, gives the country of more than 1.1 billion people a teledensity of 47.89 percent.
Yet again, Tata Teleservices Ltd. added the most new customers, signing up nearly 3.34 million new customers, or 17.5 percent of December's mobile additions. Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Reliance Communications Ltd. , and Vodafone India were the next biggest winners, all adding between 2.8 million and 2.9 million new lines each.
And if Tata performs as well in January, and Idea Cellular Ltd. has another disappointing month -- just 1.7 million new customers -- we can expect to see Tata Teleservices usurp IDEA as India's fifth-biggest mobile operator. It's hard to see how that scenario is going to be avoided, so expect some noise from Tata pretty soon.
Table 1: India's Mobile Operators by Subscribers, December 2009
|Nov 2009||Dec 2009||Additions during December|
|Bharti Airtel||116 million||118.9 million||2.9 million|
|Reliance Communications||91 million||93.8 million||2.8 million|
|Vodafone Essar||88.6 million||91.4 million||2.8 million|
|BSNL||60.8 million||62.9 million||2.1 million|
|Idea Cellular||55.9 million||57.6 million||1.7 million|
|Tata Teleservices||54 million||57.3 million||3.3 million|
|Aircel||29.4 million||31 million||1.6 million|
|MTNL||4.82 million||4.88 million||0.06 million|
|Loop Telecom||2.6 million||2.65 million||0.05 million|
|Sistema Shyam||2.65 million||3.05 million||0.4 million|
|HFCL Infotel||0.34 million||0.34 million||Minor decrease|
|Total mobile lines activated||506 million||525.15 million||19.1 million|
It's notable that India's rural and smaller urban areas are now key drivers of mobile demand. The country's telecom "circles," or service areas, are split into four categories: Metro circles (the big cities); "A" circles (include sizable cities); "B" circles (include smaller urban areas and towns); and "C" circles (rural areas). (See A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)
According to TRAI, of the 19.1 million new mobile lines activated during December, more than 7.5 million were in "B" circles and nearly 3.2 million in "C" circles. The "A" circles contributed 6.2 million, while the saturated Metro areas added fewer than 2.2 million.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading