The cellular subscriber base in the second month of the unified access service licence regime has 1.69 million additions in December 2003 with the total number of mobile customers crossing 28.19 million across the country.
As per the latest statistics released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO), while the aggregate GSM cellular subscriber base has been placed at 21.99 million, the CDMA subscriber figure (excluding BSNL and MTNL) is lower at 6.19 million.
As many as 12.71 lakh additions took place in the GSM segment while 4.2 lakh new subscribers joined the CDMA bandwagon during the month.
At the individual operator level across the technology platforms, Reliance Infocomm had a 62.46 lakh subscriber base (55.71 lakh in CDMA and 6.75 lakh in GSM) followed by Bharti with 55.01 lakh (GSM), BSNL 47.70 lakh (GSM), Hutch 41.16 lakh (GSM) and Idea Cellular 22.41 lakh (GSM).
Bharti is also the single largest operator in any one single circle, having bagged over 13.31 lakh customers in Delhi.
In the month of December, Reliance had 3.90 lakh new customers, while Bharti roped in 3.27 lakh, Hutch 3.12 lakh followed by BSNL 1.44 lakh.
According to the estimates of the COAI (which pertains to the GSM segment of operators), the regions in Circle A continued to account for the highest subscriber base at 80.48 lakh, followed closely by the four metros at 70.05 lakh subscribers and Circle B at 60.34 lakh subscribers.
Circle C continues to be far behind at only 9.10 lakh subscribers.
According to an official statement from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with this growth in the cellular subscriber base, the addition of total telephones (including landlines) exceeded 20 million in calendar year 2003, thus taking the total telephone subscribers base to around 70.5 million, thereby achieving the teledensity target of 7 per 100, targeted to be achieved by March 2005.
The annual increase in mobiles is more than 3 times higher than the increase during 2002.
Average monthly addition of 1.5 million achieved during 2003 is about 14 times higher compared to the average growth of mobile subscribers in the preceding 8 years (since 1995), the TRAI has noted.
On the tariff front, there has been an unprecedented decrease in charges over the years.
The minimum effective local call charges in cellular services have declined from Rs.14.51 per minute (for 400 minutes of usage per month) in March 1995 to Re.0.77 per minute in September 2003.
This implies that the currently prevalent effective local call charges of Re 0.77 per minute is only five per cent of what it was in 1995.