Handset manufacturing giant Nokia has set itself a target of tripling its existing 20% share of India’s CDMA mobile phone market and plans to strengthen its links with CDMA-based mobile operators Reliance Infocomm and Tata Teleservices to achieve its aims. Nokia is preparing to launch four new handsets in the Indian CDMA segment in the first quarter of 2006, including two Bluetooth enabled phones – the Nokia 2855 and 6165 – aimed at mid-tier customers, and the lower priced Nokia 1255 and 2355, aimed at first-time users. The Finnish vendor is currently setting up a factory in Chennai in southern India, ostensibly for manufacturing GSM phones. Producing CDMA-based handsets at the same facility is a possibility, according to company officials, although no decision has yet been taken.
Reliance, the country’s only dual CDMA and GSM network operator, is the clear leader in the CDMA mobile market, with 11.414 million subscribers at the end of September 2005; at the same date fixed-wireless (CDMA-based WiLL) market leader Tata claimed 2.056 million users of its CDMA cellular services. GSM remains the dominant technology standard in India, with 80% of new customers in the third quarter of 2005 signing up to a GSM service. The country’s total GSM customer base stood at over 50 million at the end of September 2005, after adding more than two million subscribers in a single month, whilst CDMA mobile users reached 13.5 million, up by 3.6 million in the first nine months of the year. Bharti Tele-Ventures leads the GSM sector; it had 14.07 million subs at end-September.