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|
|Jammy & Kashmir||4,259,857||2,529,384||68.41||192,436|
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
|Sistema Shyam Teleservices||-||27,510||-||-||-||-||27,510|
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