Telecom subscriber base grows to 1.18 billion in February: Trai

India's telecom subscriber base, mobile and landline combined, touched the 1.18-billion mark, growing 1.17% over the previous month


The telecom market growth was propelled by the addition of 13.75 million mobile users, according to Trai. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
The telecom market growth was propelled by the addition of 13.75 million mobile users, according to Trai. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: India's telecom subscriber base, mobile and landline combined, touched the 1.18-billion mark at the end of February 2017, growing 1.17% over the previous month, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The market growth was propelled by the addition of 13.75 million mobile users during the month.

The demand for the once- popular landline phone has been dwindling as cheap mobile handsets, coupled with falling tariffs and freebies, have led to an explosion in cellphone connectivity. Over the past few months, operators including newcomer Reliance Jio and incumbents like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, have been doling out attractive offers and unleashing high-decibel marketing campaign to woo customers.

“The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,174.80 million at the end of January 2017 to 1,188.5 million at the end of February 2017, showing a monthly growth rate of 1.17%,” as per the data by Trai. Urban connectivity went up to 692.15 million at February-end, from 681.15 million at January-end, a growth of over 1.6%. The pace of growth of rural connectivity was slower at 0.56%. Rural telecom users increased to 496.39 million from 493.65 million during the same period. The Indian telecom market—the second-largest in the world after China in terms of subscriber base—added 13.75 million mobile customers in February.

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This pushed up the total mobile subscriber base to 1.16 billion. The wireline connections—which have been losing sheen over the last few years—remained flat with subscriber base stagnant at about 24.35 million. Lesser number of people sought network port outs in February compared to the previous month. Nearly 5.6 million subscribers submitted requests for mobile number porting in February, compared to 6.24 million placing such request in January this year.

“In February, 5.67 million subscribers submitted their requests for mobile number portability (MNP),” Trai said. With this, the cumulative requests increased from 261.06 million at the end of January to 266.73 million at the end of February since implementation of this facility nearly seven years ago. Cellular industry body Cellular Operators Association of India director general Rajan Mathews believes the MNP numbers need to be seen in the broader context of the overall subscriber base of India and not on a stand-alone basis.

“In some markets like the US and Europe, the MNP ratio is nearly 3-5% of the overall base whereas in India, the number is much smaller,” he said. The facility of number portability allows mobile subscribers to retain their numbers when they relocate from one service area to another or wish to change their operator. PTI

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