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 Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Though India's wireless subscriber base continues to grow unabated, data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) shows that only 71 percent of the subscriber base was active in January 2011. The number of mobile subscribers in India increased by nearly 19 million, or 2.52 percent, in the month to January 31, 2011, taking the number of mobile lines to 771.18 million, according to TRAI. However, the number of active mobile subscribers according to Visitor Location Register (VLR) data in the month of January was only 548.66 million, leaving 222.52 million lines, nearly 29 percent of the total, deemed to be inactive.

VLR numbers provide details on active customers at any given point of time (essentially the number of SIM cards registered, less the number of lines not yet activated, out of coverage, or disconnected). What this essentially shows is that there are a lot of pre-paid numbers that have been activated but used only for a certain time, after which the user likely activates a new number either with the same service provider or a rival. During January, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) added 3.3 million new mobile lines to take its total to 155.8 million (giving it a 20.2 percent share of the mobile market), while Reliance Communications Ltd. added 3.2 million to take its total to 128.9 million (16.7 percent market share).

Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. is the only operator that recorded a reduction in its subscriber base during January. Videocon saw its user base fall from 7.3 million in December 2010 to 6.0 million by the end of January, with the fall believed to be the result of subscriber churn following the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) services. (See India's Operators Scrap Over MNP Spoils and MNP, Finally!.) Bharti Airtel continues to lead the way across the board in India's mobile market. Not only is it the leading operator by the number of users and the number of lines added in the past month, but it also has the highest percentage of active connections (again based on the VLR data), with 92.63 percent. Next is Idea Cellular Ltd. , which has 90.34 percent active lines. Etisalat has the lowest percentage of active lines, with just 33.55 percent.

Source: Light Reading