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Mobile user base swells

New Delhi, Nov. 6: The mobile subscriber base in India continued to move north with about 1.05 million cellular and 0.64 million wireless-in-local-loop mobile (WiLL-M) subscribers added during October leading to a total mobile subscriber base of 1.69 million. The mobile additions are higher in October this year compared with 0.53 million notched in the same period last year, and 1.66 million additions in September 2003.

Mobile telephones were first introduced in India in 1995. In the eight years till 2003, about a million telephones were added by private and public sector telecom companies. In the last seven months, 11.75 million mobile telephones were added.

According to a statement released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today, “Even if we add the same number next month, the growth will be far more than 13 million telephones this year in the first eight months. Thus the growth rate has increased 12 times.”

In 1995, fixed telephones in the world were 690 million and cellular telephones 91 million. There was not a single country where the cellular telephones exceeded the fixed telephones. In 2002, the fixed telephones lines were 1,143 million and cellular telephones 1,144 million.

Thus the cellular telephones exceeded the number of fixed telephones.

In 2002, cellular phones exceed fixed phones in 120 out of 196 countries. In many countries there is a huge difference between cellular and fixed phones. Increasingly mobile phones are becoming a phone of the working class and fixed phones are being used by those who use offices and need huge amounts of data and thus it is becoming a phone of the elite.

Trai said in a statement: “With this kind of growth in October this year, fixed lines would be of the order of 42 millions and mobiles around 25 millions by year end. At this rate of growth, we expect to reach teledensity of seven in 2003 itself.”

It was earlier targeted for March, 2005, in the tenth plan. Target of 15 was proposed to be achieved by 2010. At this rate of growth, we should achieve this target in the year 2006.

In keeping with the trend in the world, India’s mobile telephones, increasingly an instrument of the working class, will exceed the fixed lines in early 2004-2005.

Trai has quoted World Telecommunication Development Report, 1998, in its monthly report pointing that “Economists have argued for decades as to whether economic growth boosts telecommunication development or whether the relationship works the other way round.”

“The increase in growth rate of telecommunication development in India will surely help economic growth. The increasing rate of economic growth will also benefit telecommunications development,” Trai said.

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