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Fixed-line phone subscribers to increase after 2012: Gartner

Fixed-line phone subscribers to increase after 2012: Gartner

New Delhi: The number of fixed-line telephone subscribers in India will start rising again in five years as telecom operators expand broadband Internet services, Gartner Inc. has predicted.

India, the world’s second largest and fastest growing telecom market, has been seeing a steady fall in the number of fixed-line subscribers despite adding at least 11 million telecom subscribers every month.

The number of telephone connections reached 452.91 million at the end of May, with fixed-line subscribers decreasing to 37.66 million from 37.81 million in April, Gartner said in a report released on Monday. “Fixed liners have been falling due to mobile substitution. The need for landlines for voice is reduced and replaced with the mobile," said Neha Gupta, senior research analyst, Gartner. “(However) operators bundling their fixed lines with broadband, among other services, would lead to a rise in the numbers. The growth will be driven by increasing broadband penetration."

The information technology research and advisory firm’s report also forecast that revenue from India’s consumer communications market will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% to reach Rs24,000 crore by 2013 from Rs21,100 crore in 2008.

The report defined the communications market as including voice-service revenue, broadband-access revenue and Internet-access revenue. It said the fixed-line subscriber base will be at least 37 million connections by 2013, while the broadband subscriber base is expected to increase by a 26% CAGR to reach 16 million subscribers in the same period.

The landline market would stabilize by 2012, after which attempts to bundle various services on fixed lines would see an increase in subscribers in that segment, Gupta said.

Internationally, firms such as Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, also known as Singtel, BT Group Plc., France Telecom SA, Telecom Italia SpA and Taiwan’s Chungwa Telecom Co. Ltd offer such bundled services over fixed lines.

India had 6.4 million broadband subscribers at the end of May, compared with 6.28 million at the end of April, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data shows.

India’s fixed-line market is dominated by state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd with 28.97 million and 3.55 million subscribers, respectively. These firms have been seeing a steady fall in subscriber numbers while Bharti Airtel Ltd, the country’s largest mobile phone operator, has been showing a steady rise in its fixed-line subscribers, which have risen to 2.8 million in May from 2.75 million in the preceding month.

“Globally, wherever bundling is used as a strategy, then operators see a marked decrease in the churn as well as an increase in usage. But in India, there will be a staggered growth of landlines," said Girish Trivedi, deputy director (South Asia and Middle East) for information and communication technologies practice at consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan.

The Indian broadband market is dominated by digital subscriber lines (DSL), which accounted for more than 86% of all broadband connections in 2008. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% by 2013, Gartner said. DSL will continue to dominate till the end of 2013, it said.


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