The GSM operators in the country, after witnessing an erosion in subscriber base for two consecutive months, added a mere 0.24 million users in October.

The total number of GSM subscribers rose to 671.91 million as of October end, a meagre 0.04 per cent rise from September, according to data released by the GSM operators’ body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI).

“At least it’s not in the negative territory as we had indicated earlier. Customer acquisitions have become difficult and time-consuming due to the new rules, and going forward, customer acquisitions is set to be very difficult,” COAI Director-General Rajan S. Mathews told Business Line.

Airtel tops

The subscriber additions for the reporting month were led by Bharti Airtel. The country’s largest telecom operator by subscriber base added 0.49 million users during the month under review, taking its total user base to 186.41 million. The New Delhi-based firm also maintained its leadership position with a 27.74 per cent market share.

Vodafone India added 0.48 million users during the reporting month, taking its total to 153.15 million. The company had a 22.79 per cent market share as of October end.

Idea Cellular had added 0.24 million users (total users at 115.70 million) and had a 17.22 per cent marker share as of October 31.

“For the GSM operators, August and September were the most difficult months, with many of them embarking on a cleaning up drive,” Mathews added.

GSM operators, following the steps of the CDMA operators, discontinued in-active subscribers from their data base during August and September. Rival CDMA operators had undertaken these initiatives during June and July.

With a total of 57.35 million users, Uttar Pradesh (East) circle topped the charts on subscriber base, while Maharashtra added the maximum of 0.33 million GSM subscribers during the month. Subscriber additions of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Loop Mobile were not disclosed.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 22, 2012)
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