Tata Tele outpaces bigger rivals for 6th month

Tata Tele outpaces bigger rivals for 6th month

New Delhi: Tata Teleservices outpaced bigger rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar for a sixth straight month in mobile additions, continuing to gain share in the world’s fastest-growing but cut-throat mobile market.

Tata Tele, 26% owned by Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, added 3 million mobile subscribers in January, taking its total user base to more than 60 million, its managing director Anil Sardana said.

That would take Tata Tele to No.5 from its current sixth position in the country’s mobile market, the world’s second-largest with 525 million users at end-December.

Tata Teleservices kicked off a price war in the mobile market by launching a per-second billing system in mid-2009, which fuelled its subscriber additions in a price-sensitive market, and forced rivals to launch similar bill plans. India has 13 mobile operators and two more are set to start operations shortly.

Sardana said he expected subscriber growth to accelerate under the firm’s partnership with Future Group to sell mobile connections under a new brand, announced on Friday..

In comparison, top mobile firm Bharti Airtel added 2.85 million mobile subscribers in January to have a total of 121.7 million and third-ranked Vodafone Essar gained 2.74 million in January, taking its total to 94.1 million.

No. 2 mobile firm Reliance Communications is yet to release its total subscriber growth for January. It had 93.8 million users as at end-December.

Country’s fourth-largest mobile operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) added 2.23 million GSM users in January, data released by industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India showed on Friday. It also has some CDMA customers, growth figures for which would be announced separately.

Fifth-ranked Idea Cellular signed up 2.28 million mobile subscribers, taking its total to 59.9 million, while seventh-ranked Aircel gained 2.01 million in January to have a total of 33 million.

Telenor’s Indian unit, which launched services in December, added 1.33 million new users in January, higher than its December additions of 1.21 million.