Indian Telecom Services Worth $8.2B in Q1

India's service providers generated 404.4 billion Indian Rupees ($8.24 billion) in revenues during the first three months of 2009, an increase of 2.6 percent from a year earlier, according to a new report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

India ended March this year with 391.76 million mobile lines and nearly 38 million fixed lines in service, giving a total of nearly 430 million, and an overall teledensity of almost 37 percent. (See India Sets Subs Record.)

The disparity between urban and rural coverage is clear in a breakdown of the country's teledensity numbers. In urban areas, the teledensity stood at 88.66 percent at the end of March, while the rural teledensity stood at 14.8 percent, perhaps explaining why some startup operators that have yet to launch their services are focusing on rural areas. (See Batelco Ups Stake in India's S Tel.)

Of the country's mobile users, 297.3 million (75.9 percent) were using GSM services, while 94.5 million (24.1 percent) were on CDMA networks. The majority of the total mobile subscriber base -- 282 million (72 percent) -- were in urban areas, while the remaining 109.7 million (28 percent) were in rural areas.

The impact of fierce competition in the mobile services sector is hitting India's average revenue per user (ARPU) numbers.

In the dominant GSM services sector, ARPU fell from INR220 ($4.49) in the previous quarter (to the end of December 2008) to INR205 ($4.18) for the first quarter of this year, a decline of 6.8 percent.

In the CDMA sector, ARPU fell from INR111 ($2.26) to INR99 ($2.01), a decline of 10.9 percent.

In the still-struggling fixed broadband sector, DSL is the dominant technology. India had just 6.22 million broadband (downstream bandwidth of more than 256 Kbit/s) users at the end of March 2009, of which 5.36 million were DSL users and 474,000 were hooked up to a cable broadband service. A further 244,000 were connected to an in-building Ethernet LAN, while 42,000 were lucky enough to have a fiber-to-the-building connection.

To find out more about the Indian telecom market, which now has more than 415 million mobile lines, according to the TRAI's figures for the end of May, check out our in-depth report, A Guide to India's Telecom Market. (See BSNL Struggles for Subs in May.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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