At the end of 2007, the total number of mobile connections in India had grown by 61.0% year-on-year to reach 229.56 million. GSM connections totalled 172.13 million, 75% of the total. Net additions in December stood at 7.95 million, while the 2007 total stood at an astounding 86.99 million new connections - more than the entire market in Italy, which has had mobile operations for over 20 years, and more than China's 2007 total of 86.16 million.
Penetration in India is still low, having reached 20.5% at the end of 2007, and there is no reason why the market should not continue to grow rapidly, even if it cannot maintain 2007's stupendous pace. In fact, provided there is not a significant slowdown, India looks set to overtake the USA as the world's second largest market in 2008, as the chart suggests.
Market leader Bharti increased its market share to 24.0% at the end of December, a 1.6pp year-on-year gain, and finished the year on 55.16 million customers. December completed a six-month run of 2m+ monthly net additions with a record-breaking 2.20 million new customers (excluding Tata's July figure, which was massively boosted by a reclassification of its WLL customers as mobile). In second place, Reliance continued to fend off the challenge of Vodafone, stretching its lead to over 1 million for the first time in 6 months. At the end of the year it had a total of 40.93 million customers compared to 39.86 million for Vodafone.
USA vs. India: Total Customers, EOP (m), Q3 05 - Q4 07
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BSNL retained fourth place with 32.92 million, Tata was in fifth with 21.74 million, and IDEA completed the list of operators with more than 10 million customers with its total of 21 million.
In terms of annual growth, Tata led the way with 112.2%, although without the reclassification it would have been less than 70%. Bharti showed it has not become complacent with a 72.5% expansion of its customer base, while Vodafone was not far behind with 71.0% growth. IDEA recorded 68.7% growth, while state-owned BSNL was much more sluggish at 37.4%. The slowest-growing of the top 6 was Reliance, although its 36.5% growth rate was heavily impacted by the disconnection of over 4m subscribers in March as a result of a customer registration programme.
Source: Cellular News.