Indian Subs Soar Again

India's mobile operators added 14.38 million mobile connections in July, on the back of increased activity in rural areas, according to the latest statistics from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

India now has 441.66 million mobile connections in total.

Total additions were up on June (12 million additions) and were the highest since March, when additions topped 15 million. (See India Sets Subs Record.)

Surprisingly, the highest growth rate came from the rural C circles. Rural teledensity was just 12.6 percent at the end of 2008, according to the TRAI's figures, leaving significant opportunities as the growth rate slows in urban areas.

In July, however, mobile connections in the rural C circles increased 71.3 percent year on year, compared to 52.3 percent for B circles, 45.1 percent for A circles, and 36.7 percent for the major metro centers.

The C circles added 2.37 million and accounted for 16.48 percent of the total for the month. Of all the rural circles, Bihar in the northeast of the country, saw the most activity, as illustrated in the table below.

Table 1: C Circle Subscriber Growth
Circle July '09 July '08 Y-on-Y growth Month additions
Assam 6,580,368 4,484,274 46.74 183,880
Bihar 25,384,118 13,244,737 91.65 1,215,785
Himachal Pradesh 3,685,840 2,487,204 48.19 77,298
Jammy & Kashmir 4,259,857 2,529,384 68.41 192,436
Northeast 3,947,141 2,005,155 96.85 110,648
Orissa 10,588,431 6,021,778 75.84 592,464
Total 54,445,755 30,772,532 Average: 71.28 2,372,511
Source: TRAI

Over 1.2 million connections were added in Bihar as competition increased following the launch by new entrant, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd. , which secured 27,510 subscribers in its first month of operation in the circle. Bihar was also the second most successful circle for Idea Cellular Ltd. , which itself only launched in Bihar in October 2008.

Idea took 20 percent of the additions in Bihar in July, the second-largest share behind Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL). Tata Teleservices Ltd. accounted for the smallest number of additions in circle in the month it began the rollout of its GSM Tata Docomo services in the south of the country.(See Tata GSM Services Go Live.)

For more information on which operators are doing the most in rural areas, see the table below.

Table 2: C Circle Subscribers by Operator
Circle Assam Bihar H&P J&K Northeast Orissa Total
Operator Aircel 47,465 242,089 15,935 82,810 48,737 12,731 449,767
Bharti Airtel 75,469 306,261 27,421 30,828 35,134 172,781 647,894
BSNL 9,106 63,910 9,837 -812 4,190 55,116 141,347
Idea - 247,661 5,063 - - 8,090 260,814
Reliance Communication 8,691 99,026 9,179 36,072 248 68,604 221,820
Sistema Shyam Teleservices - 27,510 - - - - 27,510
Tata Teleservices 3,657 38,691 1,268 7,113 4,898 264,261 319,888
Vodafone Essar 39,492 190,638 8,595 36,425 17,441 10,881 303,472
Total 183,880 1,215,786 77,298 192,436 110,648 592,464 2,372,511
Source: TRAI

It was a very different story in wireline services, where subscriptions declined from 37.54 million in June to 37.41 million in July. The brunt of the decline was taken by the government-owned telcos, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , which lost 170,000 subscribers, while the major private telcos increased their wireline subscriber bases. This is more bad news for BSNL, which has also found its mobile subscriber base coming under pressure. (See BSNL Struggles for Subs in May.)

For more on India's telecom's circles and rural services, see "A Guide to India's Telecom Market."

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 3:58:10 PM
re: Indian Subs Soar Again

When (I guess it'll happen some time) the Indian operators can only report the number of 'active' subscribers on their networks, I wonder what the total will be then? There must be an awful lot of pre-paid numbers dormant in India right now. 

Sign In