India Racks Up Mobile Subs

India's mobile operators added more than 7 million subscribers during October, based on the latest data released by the Cellular Operators Association of India .

The COAI, which represents carriers running GSM-based networks, said yesterday that its members expanded their combined subscriber base by 5.7 million -- up from 5.6 million in September.

The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) , which represents the country's CDMA carriers, has yet to release figures for last month, but Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) -- India's largest CDMA-based operator -- said Thursday that it signed up 1.51 million customers in October.

Table 1 shows subscriber numbers for the GSM operators plus Reliance. The AUSPI figures, when released, will include Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd.

Table 1: Mobile subscriber growth for October
Operator October additions Total subscribers
Bharti Airtel 2.03 million 50.9 million
Vodafone-Essar 1.52 million 37.19 million
Reliance Communications 1.51 million 36.3 million
Idea Cellular 750,000 19.42 million
BSNL 728,000 31 million
Aircel 490,000 8.52 million
Spice Communications 90,000 3.57 million
MTNL 54,000 2.83 million
BPL Mobile * 1.2 million
Dishnet Wireless * 2.75 million
* figures not available
Source: COAI

Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), the country's largest telco, signed up 2.03 million subscribers during the month, taking its mobile subscriber base past the 50 million mark. Vodafone India is the second largest, with a subscriber base of 37.19 million after gaining 1.52 million customers.

State-run carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) , whose growth has been held back by delays in expanding its network infrastructure, was able to add more than 727,000 subscribers, up from around 590,000 in September.

India now has more than 216 million mobile subscribers, up from 149.5 million at the end of 2006. (See Top 10 Emerging Mobile Markets .)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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