Telecom growth continues; Mobile subscribers crosses fixed line subscribers

NEW DELHI: As per a compilation done by TRAI based on latest reports from operators, the subscriber base for telephony services continued to maintain its growth pattern during October 2004 also. In the month of October 2004, around 1.7 million subscribers were added as compared to around 2 million subscribers in September 2004.

During the first 7 months of year 2004-2005 more than 12 million subscribers have been added. For mobile segment 1.53 million subscribers have been added during October 2004 as compared to 1.84 million in September 2004, says a TRAI release.

The mobile additions consist of 1.20 million GSM subscribers and 0.33 million CDMA subscribers. During the first seven months of current financial year approximately 11 million mobile subscribers were added, making it a total of 44.51 million mobile subscribers at the end of October 2004. In the fixed segment, a total of 0.16 million subscribers were added during October 2004, which were predominantly WLL (F). With this the total subscriber base of fixed lines have reached 43.96 million. Thus the number of mobile subscribers has crossed fixed telephony subscribers in the country. The gross subscribers' base consisting of fixed as well as mobile has touched 8.85 million resulting into the overall tele-density of around 8.24.

International Comparison:

An international research group has recently released the statistics for growth of mobile telephony till June 2004 for various countries.

The salient features of this report on Indian telecom services are as under:

India has recorded the highest annual mobile subscriber growth (over 100 per cent) from the 2nd quarter 2003 onwards.

The annual growth rate for the quarter ending March 2004 and June 2004 was 140 per cent and 116 per cent respectively, which was highest among 50 countries covered in survey (all major countries have been covered in this survey). This unprecedented growth has been due to the fact that the mobile tariffs in India are the lowest. After June 2004 there has been further fall in the tariffs of mobile telephony.

The Revenue Per Minute for mobile service was of the order of Rs.1.80 for the quarter ending June 2004 and has been reported to be the lowest, along with China.

The lowest tariffs in the country have resulted in increase in the monthly minutes of use, which were 309 at the end of June 2004 as against 295 for the previous quarter. The ARPU at the end of 2nd quarter 2004 remained the same at US$ 11, which is marginally higher than ARPU in China at $10. Had there been no fall in tariffs, the minutes of use would have gone down drastically affecting the growth of mobile telephony in the country.

The average mobile spending in India is 0.8 per cent of GDP. The highest mobile spending of 4.8 per cent of GDP is in Nigeria. The mobile spending in China is 2.5 per cent, Malaysia 2.8 per cent, South Africa 3.4 per cent, Singapore 1.5 per cent and Indonesia 1.4 per cent of GDP. With the continuous decline in tariffs and improvement in services, it is expected that the mobile spending in the country would go up and mobile telephony subscriber base is expected to grow further, the addressable market going up with every reduction in tariff and also with expansion of the network in the interiors adding to population coverage of the network.

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