A Guide to India's Telecom Operators
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) , the country, which boasts a population of more than 1.1 billion, had 272.88 million telephone connections at the end of 2007, of which 233.63 million were mobile and 39.25 million were fixed line.
Fixed-line coverage is largely provided by state-owned operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , which account for 35.31 million of the total subscriptions.
But while those players are trying to stimulate the market with broadband and even IPTV service offers, the number of fixed-line connections fell by 2.29 million during 2007. (See MTNL Puts Faith in Triple Play, Microsoft Seals $500M IPTV Deal, BSNL Picks NSN DSLAMs, UTStarcom Rolls IPTV in India, and Indian Telcos Tackle Broadband Shortage.)
That's because the demand for basic voice services is being met by the mobile operators, which, between them, connected 84.01 million new subscribers in 2007. That total looks set to be beaten in 2008 as the mobile operators are now signing up more than 8 million new customers every month.
To keep up with this demand, India's 13 mobile operators are expecting to invest more than $12 billion in their networks by 2010, in some cases expanding into new regions of the country.
And there are more players entering the market. Five new companies – Datacom, Loop Telecom, S Tel, Swan Communications, and Unitech – were awarded so-called "letters of intent" for licenses in January, signaling the potential injection into the market of several billion dollars of capital expenditure. (See Indian Gov't Grants Mobile Licenses.)
With the Indian market now such a hotbed of telecom growth, and becoming increasingly important to the business strategies of global players such as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), it's never been more vital to have an information resource that identifies India's major service providers and outlines the market in which they operate.
This report provides a guide to the leading fixed and mobile operators, the licensing landscape, and the complex system of "circles," or service areas, in which the carriers operate.
Feedback and comments concerning the report, as well as any updates or additions, are most welcome, and can be added to the message boards at the foot of this page (preferable) or sent to [email protected].
— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading
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