Indian market grows to more than 900 million customers

The number of telecoms customers in India crossed the 900 million mark in May, according to new data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with Reliance Communications boasting the biggest number of mobile additions.

In its latest report, the TRAI says the number of mobile customers rose from about 867 million in April to more than 870 million at the end of May, while the fixed-line base shrank by some 140,000 customers to finish the month with some 29.85 million subscribers overall.

The number of telecoms customers in India crossed the 900 million mark in May, according to new data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with Reliance Communications boasting the biggest number of mobile additions.

In its latest report, the TRAI says the number of mobile customers rose from about 867 million in April to more than 870 million at the end of May, while the fixed-line base shrank by some 140,000 customers to finish the month with some 29.85 million subscribers overall.

The share of mobile customers living in urban areas also fell below 60% in May as operators continued to extend their services into rural and remote parts of the country.

Bharti Airtel (New Delhi, India) remains India’s biggest mobile operator, with a market share of 21.79% in May, according to TRAI data, but it languished in fourth place when it came to subscriber growth during the month, with 852,000 net customer additions.

Rival Reliance Communications came top on that measure, growing its mobile customer base by more than 1.2 million subscriptions in May, while Vodafone (Mumbai, India) came second with more than 910,000 net additions.

Vodafone remains the second-biggest mobile operator in the Indian market, with a 17.78% share of customers, followed by Reliance Communications (Mumbai, India) in third place, with a 14.35% share.

India’s leading operators have been recently buoyed by the disappearance of several competitors after legislative authorities decided to cancel a number of licenses they claimed had been unjustly awarded in an auction process of 2008.

Analysts say the move has allowed the country’s remaining players to raise the price of their services, while demand for 3G and data subscriptions is also picking up.

The TRAI’s report had little to say on that subject but noted a steady increase in the number of mobile number portability requests, to 93.56 million at the end of May from 91.73 million at the end of April.

Despite a decrease in the number of fixed-line customers, the TRAI also flagged continuing broadband growth, reporting 15.13 million customers at the end of May compared with 15.09 million at the end of April.