India’s mobile-phone market has registered its first-ever decline in subscriber numbers, according to data recently published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
The regulatory body says that customer numbers dropped by more than 20 million over the July period, falling from 965.52 million to 944.81 million.
The decline mainly affected Reliance Communications (Mumbai, India), the country’s second-biggest operator, which disconnected some 20.48 million ‘inactive’ customers in July.
Tata Teleservices (Mumbai, India) disconnected 2.4 million customers, while Uninor (Gurgaon, India) lost 1.1 million.
Videocon (Gurgaon, India), MTNL (Delhi, India) and Loop (Mumbai, India) also reported subscriber disconnections.
Although a number of operators signed up new customers in July, their gains were not enough to offset the losses elsewhere.
Bharti Airtel (Delhi, India), the country’s biggest operator, claimed to end the month of July with 1.5 million net additions, while Vodafone (Newbury, UK) reported 1.2 million.
BSNL (Delhi, India), Idea (Delhi), Aircel (Gurgaon, India), Sistema (Moscow, Russia) and HFCL (Delhi, India) also reported growth.
As in other emerging markets, Indian operators have been disconnecting prepaid customers who do not use their service and are therefore classified as ‘inactive’.