The success of Reliance Infocomm's telephony services appeared to suggest that other competitors would be left behind for years to come. But June 2004 subscriber figures, presented by the Association of Unified Telecom Providers of India, show that a contender to Reliance Infocomm is emerging.
Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has registered a growth of 10.57 per cent in it Tata Indicom subscriber base, which spans eight telecom circles, whereas Reliance has registered a growth of only 3.93 per cent in the same eight circles.
This may not be surprising given that the former's growth was over a smaller subscriber base, of over 1.83 million as on May 31, 2004, as opposed to the latter's, whose base was over 4.92 million as on the same date for the same eight circles.
The real surprise is that Tata Indicom also tops in net subscriber additions in its circles of operation (combined). It added 1,94,001 subscribers in June in all in its eight circles, whereas Reliance Infocomm added 1,93,739 customers in those same circles.
Officials at Tata Teleservices expressed great satisfaction at the June figures, which show a remarkable turnaround coming as they do after May 2004 during which TTSL lost 15,000 customers in its fixed line and CDMA mobile base. The company had attributed this to a "cleaning out of defaulting customers."
Not only has TTSL crossed the 2-million mark in June but its incremental market share for the month stood at 22 per cent, said Mr Amit Bose, President, TTSL. "This growth was largely fuelled by our FWP (fixed wireless phone) and our mobile business," he said.
This is even more remarkable in view of the fact that TTSL does not have pre-paid services yet. "Our coverage is increasing at a furious pace. In the last three months our coverage has grown from 50 towns to nearly 200, all in the existing circles. By March 2005, we plan to be in over 1,000 towns in 20 circles," said Mr Bose.
He said TTSL's growth was also due to the overwhelming response to the launch of the Nokia 3105 handset, through which it offers 1,000 game-downloads and other services.
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