Bharti adds 2.5 mln Indian mobile users in March

NEW DELHI Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:36pm IST

A man touches a screen on a Bharti Airtel advertisement billboard during the launch ceremony for 4G services in Kolkata April 10, 2012. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A man touches a screen on a Bharti Airtel advertisement billboard during the launch ceremony for 4G services in Kolkata April 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Related Topics

Stocks

   

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Top mobile phone carrier Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS) signed up 2.5 million subscribers in March, its highest monthly addition in a year, partly helped by the Supreme Court's order revoking the licenses of its smaller rivals.

Carriers including Telenor (TEL.OL) and Sistema's (SSAq.L) India units, Idea Cellular (IDEA.NS) and Tata Teleservices are set to lose some or all of their zonal telecom permits after the Supreme Court in February ordered cancellation of all licences awarded in a scandal-tainted 2008 sale.

Analysts expect older and established firms such as Bharti to benefit if some players exit the ferociously-competitive 15-player market. The affected carriers have the option of bidding in a state auction to win back the permits, but not all are expected to bid.

Bharti boosted its total subscribers in India to 181.3 million as of end-March, data from the Cellular Operators Association showed. This is the highest monthly addition for Bharti since March 2011, when it had signed up 3.2 million users.

It added 1.8 million subscribers in February and additions were on average 1.5 million a month in 11 months to February.

"The recent uncertainty with licences is bound to help incumbents," said Mahesh Uppal, director at telecoms consulting firm Com First (India).

"My sense is that uncertainty maybe spurring people to move to an established player like Bharti," he said. India allows mobile subscribers to switch carriers without having to change their numbers.

Mobile phone additions in India, the world's second-largest mobile phone market after China, have slowed in the past year as the market shows some signs of saturation after high growth and also as carriers have started disconnecting inactive users.

Many people in India have subscribed to more than one mobile phone accounts, but do not use all of them regularly. Carriers are deactivating subscribers who have not used their phones for six months in a row in a clean-up exercise.

Vodafone's (VOD.L) India unit, which is No. 3 carrier by subscribers, signed up 1 million mobile subscribers in March to take its total to 150.5 million, data from the Cellular Operators Association of India showed.

Fourth-ranked Idea Cellular (IDEA.NS), which had outpaced bigger rivals in subscriber additions in the past several months, signed up 2 million mobile subscribers in March to have a total of 112.7 million. March additions were lower than 2.6 million subscribers it had added in February.

Seventh-ranked Aircel, majority owned by Malaysia's Maxis, lost a net 0.7 million mobile subscribers in march to have a total of 62.6 million, but eighth-ranked carrier, Telenor's (TEL.OL) India unit, gained 1.3 million mobile phone users in March to have a total of 42.4 million.

The Telenor's India unit had signed up 2.3 million in February.

The industry association does not release data on monthly additions by No.2 mobile carrier Reliance Communications (RLCM.NS) and sixth-ranked Tata Teleservices.

The telecoms regulator will later release detailed figures for all companies and the sector. As of February, India had a total 911 million mobile subscribers.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Wilful Negligence?

Wilful Negligence?

SEBI piles pressure on Sahara to sell overseas hotels  Full Article 

Indian Economy

Indian Economy

India's fiscal deficit in H1 almost 83 pct of full-year target.  Full Article 

M&M Earnings

M&M Earnings

M&M Q2 net profit down 4 percent, hit by poor monsoon.  Full Article 

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage