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Net subscriber base tops 6-m mark

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Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec. 27

IT is not just the mobile segment that is breaking records, the dial-up Internet subscriber base too has crossed the 6-million mark - three months ahead of the target date set by the government as part of its broadband policy.

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI's) quarterly performance indicators, Internet user base has grown 15 per cent from September 2004 to September 2005, with the private operators accounting for 2.6 million users. Broadband usage has, however, had a slow growth with just over 6 lakh subscribers against a target of 3 million by end of 2005.

TRAI pointed out that the minimum monthly tariff for broadband had come down to the level of dial-up Internet charges for a month for similar usage. The demand for broadband services had increased, but the supply was a cause of concern.

"The achievement of Internet target before the due date and likely failure for the same for broadband services indicate the lack of availability of broadband services throughout the country similar to the dial-up Internet service due to lack of competition in the copper-based last mile, which is mostly with the incumbent," TRAI said.

Overall, the telecom industry and the consumers have lots to celebrate during the quarter ended September 2005.

Tele-density reached double-digits crossing 10 per cent. Bandwidth prices, both for domestic and international, reduced by up to 70 per cent and the effective per minute charge for a mobile local call has been reduced from Rs 1.90 at the end of September 2004 to Rs 1.20 at the end of September 2005, registering a decline of 37 per cent over the year.

The gross subscriber base of the fixed and mobile services together reached 113.07 million at the end of quarter, from 104.22 million as on June 2005, registering an increase of 8.49 per cent during the quarter.

The subscriber base of fixed service (fixed line and WLL-F) increased from 46.85 million to 48 million, the additions being predominantly WLL-F and that for mobile services (GSM and CDMA) from 57.37 million to 65.07 million during the quarter.

The number of village public telephones increased to 5.35 lakh, covering 86 per cent of 6.08 lakh villages compared with 5.30 lakh at the end of June 2005.

TRAI observed that most of the cellular mobile service providers are not meeting the quality of service benchmarks in some of the circles.

The Point of Interconnection (PoI) congestion report for the July-September period shows that there has been increasing congestion between the networks of cellular mobile operators. In about 193 locations, the PoI congestion level is more than 10 per cent and in about 72 out of such locations, the level of congestion is 40 per cent or more.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 28, 2005)
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