India beats China with 8.77 mn new mobile users

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Mumbai, Feb 24: Although the total wireless subscribers in India surged 55 percent to 242.4 million in January from year-ago levels, the fixed-line telephone subscriber base continued to contract as more users shift to mobile phones, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's data showed. 

Mobile phone operators in India added a record 8.77 million subscribers in January - the highest-ever recorded globally - against 8.42 added by China, the world's largest telecom market. China's addition of 8.42 million subscribers in January was aided by a 7-million addition by China Mobile, the country's dominant GSM operator, industry sources said.

India, the world's fastest-growing mobile market, added a record 8.77 million mobile phone connections in January 2008 against 8.17 million added in December 2007, according to data released by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Sector leader Bharti Airtel Ltd added 2.3 million new mobile phone users in January, taking its subscribers to 57.4 million.

Second-ranked Reliance Communications Ltd added 1.6 million users, lifting its subscriber base to 42.6 million, and Vodafone Essar Ltd signed up 1.3 million users, taking its customer base to 41.2 million. Including fixed-line phones, India had 281.6 million telephone users by the end of January, taking the percentage of its population with access to telephones to 24.63 percent as against 23.89 percent in December, the regulator said.

Mobile phone operators in India have been adding about 8 million users on an average each month since July. Still, only about a quarter of the population in India has a phone.

While the number of mobile phone subscribers in India surged 55 per cent to 242.4 million in January from year-ago levels, fixed-line telephone subscriber base continued to contract. The total number of telephone connections reached 281.62 million at the end of January, against 272.88 million in December 2007. Tele-density increased to 24.63 per cent as of end-January.

The number of wireline subscribers in January shrank to 39.2 million from 40.4 million year ago, the TRAI data showed. Total broadband subscriber base in India reached 3.24 million by the end of January 2008, compared to 3.13 million by the end of December 2007.

Including fixed-line phones, India had 281.6 million telephone users by the end of January, taking the percentage of its population with access to telephones to 24.63 percent as against 23.89 percent in December, the regulator said.


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