New Delhi: The number of mobile subscribers in India crossed the 400 million mark in April, official data showed Tuesday, putting the country on track to reach its goal of 500 million customers by next year.
Some 11.90 million subscribers were added in April compared with 15.64 million during the previous month, figures posted on the Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) website said.
The rise took India’s total wireless subscriber base to 403.66 million, TRAI said.
The slowdown in subscriber growth came after cellular operators withdrew special deals on offer during the final months of the fiscal year to March when the firms sought to boost revenues to help their annual accounts.
But India remains the world’s fastest-growing mobile market and analysts say the government’s target of 500 million mobile phone users could be reached ahead of schedule.
The total telecom subscriber base made up of wireless and landline customers stood at 441.47 million at the end of April compared with 429.72 million in March, TRAI added.
Total penetration stands at close to 38 telephones for every 100 people, TRAI said. India has nearly 1.2 billion people.
India has said it will stage its much delayed auction of third-generation (3G) wireless spectrum by year end.
Third-generation wireless service allows voice, data and video to be sent at high speeds to mobile devices and is viewed as the next major booster driving growth in India’s telecoms market.
The Congress-led government had forecast the auction could raise Rs400 billion rupees ($8.5 billion).
But since its re-election last month, it has backed off that forecast, saying the global financial crisis could reduce the windfall.
India’s newly reappointed telecoms minister A. Raja has also said he will seek to push cheap local mobile call rates even lower to spur cellular growth.
Local mobile calls now cost as little as one cent a minute while long-distance rates vary from two cents to four cents a minute.
Raja says he wants to cut the local rate to less than half a cent a minute