India: mobile promise

Publié le par Jean Arnal


India is the second largest country by population (perhaps 1.1bn people) and the fourth by mobile subscribers, but one of the highest growing subscriber base. India had 10m mobile subscribers in 2002, passed 50m GSM subscribers in Sept. 2005, reached 100m in mid 2006 and is given by India' s communications minister to have 500m by 2010. Growth has accelerated in 2006, mainly due to the introduction of 'lifetime' prepaid tariffs. The lifetime prepaid plans require a one-time payment of about $22 to open the line, then the user is only required to place one call every six months to keep the line active, and he can receive free incoming calls. The measure is strongly incitative to get a mobile phone number. India today is adding more new subscribers per month than China, but mobile teledensity remains low at 11%. Vendors are rushing to India and India could stop importing GSM handsets as the results of production plants installed now in India. Now India turns itself to 3G and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has allotted spectrum to seven companies for trial: Bharti Airtel, Aircel Cellular, Idea Cellular, BSNL, MTNL, Reliance Telecom and Hutchison Essar. For the CDMA players, the TRAI has recommended that up to three operators were given spectrum, but trials are expected to be carried out by January 2008. But everything is not yet clear and the final policy is likely to be announced over the next two months.

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