India reported around 2.09 million mobile subscriber additions in March to take the country total to 33.28 million at the end of the month, according to official figures from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Basic Telecoms Operators (ABTO). Of the total, around 26.13 million are signed up to GSM-based services, with 1.5 million net additions in March, and 7.15 million to the rival CDMA platform, up 580,000 on the previous month’s figure. However, the COAI said that despite a year-on-year mobile growth rate of 153%, the ‘subscriber additions trend was appearing to plateau off’, and issued a warning that the slowdown was a ‘disturbing’ development given the industry’s aim to dramatically improve the teledensity rate in India.
At the end of March 2004 Bharti led the pack in the GSM sector with 6.5 million subscribers, followed by BSNL with 5.22 million and Hutch (5.14 million). Idea Cellular claimed 2.73 million users, excluding some 980,000 Escotel subscribers recently acquired by Idea Cellular, and BPL had 1.88 million subscribers. Meanwhile, in the CDMA segment Reliance had 6.47 million users, ahead of Tata Teleservices with 620,000. The CDMA figures do not take account of the rapidly expanding wireless in the local loop (WiLL) market in which both Reliance and Tata are prominent players. At the start of April Tata led this sector with 630,000 subscribers while Reliance had 500,000.