Monthly net additions in the Indian GSM market were the highest ever recorded in January 2008, according to the latest data from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Including estimates for Reliance, whose reporting still lags by a month, GSM net additions increased in number to 6.54m in January – beating the previous best of 6.24m set in August 2007.
Cumulative customer growth rate since 07/07
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The new connections made in January 2008, which were almost one third more numerous than those made in January 2007, took the national total for GSM customers to 178.8m from 172.2m at the end of December. Proportionately, however, growth is slowing: the 3.80% increase in January 2008 fell below the rate recorded in January 2007 (+4.74%) and, indeed, all but two other months last year.
As the 1st chart shows, market leader Bharti Airtel beat its own monthly net additions record for the second successive month in January, as new connection numbers reached 2.25m from 2.20m in December. Perhaps the more striking trend is that Bharti’s success seems to be coming at its largest rival Vodafone’s expense: in January 2008, Vodafone Essar’s net additions fell for the sixth successive month, from a high of 1.69m in July 2007 to 1.28m. Vodafone’s market share of net additions has also fallen over the last six months from 28.0% in July 2007 to just 19.6% in January 2008, although averaged over the period the figure works out at 23.6% - just above its current market share of the total customer base of 23.0%. By the same token, whilst Bharti’s share of net additions over the last six months is in excess of its current market share, it is not greatly so, at 34.3% to 32.1%.
Relatively speaking, the best performers were Reliance Telecom, with a 5.2% share of net additions against 3.6% of total customers, and Aircel, with a 7.5% share of net additions against a 5.6% share of the overall base. This is also evident from the proportionate growth figures, which show Reliance leading the field with a 43.7% increase since 31st July and Aircel close behind with a 38.7% uplift. The chart below shows the growth of India’s GSM operators to the end of January 2008, indexed relative to the size of their base at the end of July 2007.
GSM net additions by operator
Source: Cellular News.