Mobile phone subscribers exceed fixed-line users

Mobile phone subscribers exceed fixed-line users

Tuesday, 09 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: The number of mobile phone subscribers in India exceeded that of fixed-line users by October end, said the industry regulator Monday.

At the end of last month, the mobile phone user base swelled to a staggering 44.51 million, compared to 43.96 million fixed-line users, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Around 1.7 million phone subscribers were added in October, taking the total number of new additions in the first seven months of fiscal 2004-05 to over 12 million.

In the mobile segment, 1.53 million subscribers were added during October, said the telecom industry watchdog.

The mobile additions consist of 1.20 million GSM (global system for mobile) technology subscribers and 330,000 cheaper CDMA (code division multiple access) users.

During the first seven months of the current fiscal, approximately 11 million mobile subscribers were added, making it a total of 44.51 million mobile users by Oct 31.

In the fixed-line segment, a total of 160,000 subscribers were added during October, taking the total user base to 43.96 million.

"Thus the number of mobile subscribers has crossed fixed telephony subscribers in the country," said the TRAI statement.

The gross subscriber base consisting of fixed and mobile phones has touched 8.85 million, resulting in an overall telephone density of around 8.24 per 100 people in the country of over one billion.

TRAI said with the present low population coverage of mobile network, low percentage of spending on telecom vis-à-vis the country's gross domestic product, there was potential for further quick growth.

Though 44.51 million mobile phones may look measly in a country of over a billion people, industry experts forecast that the revolution underway will take the user base of mobile phones to 100 million by the end of next year.

That would make India the third largest cellular market in Asia, after China and Japan.

Industry analysts attribute the boom to a growing economy, a strong middle-class and the increasing affordability of mobile phones.

A sharp plunge in the price of handsets has fuelled stronger growth. A basic handset is available for 3,000 ($60) today, down from 12,000 ($250) until recently.

"The mobile-fixed crossover comes within just nine years of the introduction of cellular mobile services in the country," said T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI).

"It demonstrates the power of mobile telephony to drive India's phone density and economic objectives," he said.
Source: IANS
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