India Adds 20.21 Mn Users in March 2011; Airtel, RCom and Vodafone Lead

According to TRAI,  the total number of telephone subscribers in India increased to 846.32 million at the end of March 2011 from 826.25 mn at the end of February 2011, registering a growth rate of 2.43 percent.

Urban subscriber numbers have shown a decline of 2.32 percent totaling 66.65 percent from 66.72 percent where as the share of rural subscribers has increased by 2.64 percent from 33.28 percent to 33.35 percent. This only proves the growing upward mobility of the rural market. With this, the overall teledensity in India has reached 70.89.

The total wireless subscriber base increased from 791.38 mn in February 2011 to 811.59 mn at the end of March 2011, registering a growth of 2.55 percent. Here again, the share of urban subscribers has declined to 66.30 percent from 66.36 percent, where as the share of rural subscribers has increased from 33.64 percent to 33.70 percent. The overall wireless teledensity in India reaches 67.98.

According to estimates, Bharti Airtel’s market share is now 19.99 percent, followed by Reliance Communications at 16.72 percent and Vodafone at 16.58 percent. BSNL has 11.32 percent while Tata Teleservices has 10.98 percent market share while Idea Cellular has 11.03 percent.

In early March, Bharti Airtel  announced that it had added 6 lakh 3G subscribers in the 11 circles where it has launched 3G services till date, and is targeting 1,000 towns by the end of FY 2012. Idea Cellular  reported 1 mn 3G subscribers within a month of its launch. RCom has launched 3G in over 150 cities, the latest being in HP, and it plans to rollout 3G services in all its 13 circles where it won 3G spectrum shortly. Vodafone reported over 2 lakh 3G subscribers in March 2011, and says that it is adding 35,000 new 3G users on a daily basis. It has launched in over 8 circles till date. Tata DOCOMO, which invested Rs 250 cr for its 3G rollout in Gujarat, now offers 3G services in 19 cities in the state, besides also being present in 8 other circles.

VLR active subscribers have also increased to 70.72 percent of the total wireless subscriber base, with 573.97 mn being active VLR  subscribers in March, out of the total 811.59 mn subscriber base, according to TRAI data. Circle-wise, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest proportion of VLR subscribers with 79.63 percent, followed by Assam (78.18 percent) and Maharashtra (76.79 percent); Mumbai has the lowest proportion with 58.49 percent.

MNP has also shown a record 64.23 mn lakh subscriber churn by the end of March 2011, where North and Western India recorded the maximum amount of MNP numbers. According to a report released by COAI in March, Vodafone was the biggest gainer in MNP, adding over 50,000 customers, followed by Idea which added 0.18 percent net additions to their total subscriber base, Bharti Airtel which added 0.10 percent net additions to its subscriber base. According to the report, RCom has fared the worst in MNP, losing more than 350 thousand subscribers, with net additions of -0.24 percent.

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