Even as India formally achieved a teledensity (number of phone connections per 100 people) of 7 at the end of December 2003, 15 months ahead of its target of National Telecom Policy 99, Reliance Infocomm, the latest entrant into mobile telephony has emerged as the largest wireless service provider in the country.
According to a media release issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday, the total number of phones (including fixed and wireless) in the country touched 70.5 million as more than 20 million new telephone subscribers were added in the calender 2003.
Reliance Infocomm, a Code Divison Multiple Access (CDMA) technology based mobile service provider has become the largest wireless services provider with 62.43 lakh subscribers at the end of 2003, according to Trai. Reliance has build up its base only in 6-7 months as it could commercially launch its services only in the first week of May in 2002 after several hiccups. Bharti group offering global system for mobile (GSM) services under Airtel brand name, is the second largest wireless service provider with total 55.11 lakh subscribers base followed by government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) with 47.70 lakh customers.
Total wireless subscriber base of the country has crossed 28 million as on December 31, 2003, with GSM-based operators accounting for 21.99 million subscribers and private CDMA-based operators accounting for 6.18 million subscribers.
In December alone, GSM operators have added 1.27 million subscribers while CDMA operators (excluding MTNL and BSNL) have added 4.2 lakh subscribers, according to subscriber details released by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) on Tuesday.
Trai, in its media note, has also claimed that tariffs for mobile services dropped to more than half in last one year.
“On tariff front, there has been an unprecedented decrease in charges over the years. The currently prevailing effective local call charges of Rs 0.77 per minute is only 5 per cent of what it was in 1995,” Trai release said.
Trai has compared the effective charges for 400 minutes of use per month.