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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

India - A Cell Phone Nation

India's mobile phone users surpass land line base .The number of mobile phone subscribers in India last month swept past the country's fixed-line telephone base in a growth trajectory that is second only in speed and magnitude to that of neighbouring China. According to India's telecommunications authority, the country's mobile telecom base grew by 1.4m in October to reach 44.9m subscribers, compared with 43.9m registered users of land lines in the country. India's telecoms revolution, which has seen a near-doubling in the country's "teledensity" to 8.5 phone owners per 100 people over the last three years, is set to speed up even further, according to industry executives. China is considered to be about five years ahead of India, with a teledensity of almost 20 per cent.Sunil Mittal, chief executive of Bharti Televentures, one of the largest cell phone providers in India, with almost 10m subscribers, expects the market to expand by 2m a month over the next two years. Mr Mittal projects 100m Indian mobile users by mid-2006, comfortably dwarfing the country's fixed-line base. Bharti is partly owned by SingTel, the Singapore provider. "This is not just a revolution in terms of growth in the market, it is also a dramatic shift of power to the consumer in India," said Mr Mittal. "In India mobile phones are for ordinary people and fixed-line phones are for the rich. We used to think it was the other way round."
The sharp growth in India's mobile market from 3m subscribers in 2000 to 45m now has been matched by an equally dramatic fall in tariff rates. Charges for both domestic and international calls have fallen by about 90 per cent in the last few years and are expected to fall further.

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