The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cell India grows young
- Professional tool becomes personal accessory

New Delhi, March 28: Mobile mania is spreading like a forest fire in India — and it is the young who have ignited the craze.

Take a look at the latest statistics: the proportion of mobile subscribers below the age of 25 has leapt from 24 per cent to 37 per cent in 2003. Many of them have probably not earned their first pay packets.

Today, two out of every five subscribers are below 25 years old, while two-thirds are below 35.

TNS India’s CellTrack annual survey says people above 35 accounted for 29 per cent of the mobile users’ population in 2002. It dropped to 21 per cent in 2003.

The study is based on the TRI*M stakeholder relationship management system, a process that evaluates and analyses telecom subscriber base.

Abraham Karim Panal, the vice-president of the stakeholder management division, TNS India, said: “The entry and usage costs have dropped and the phones are being given by parents to the children to stay in touch with them. Further, there is a primary shift in the profile of Indian mobile users. Worldwide, mobile technology is adopted fast by the younger people.”

“In future, we will witness still younger persons using mobile phones with smaller kids and students owning a mobile. This trend will continue over the next few years,” said Panal.

The use of mobile phones among the non-working population like housewives and students has also increased by 6 per cent. The subscriber base of non-working population using mobile phones, which stood at 7 per cent in 2002, went up to 13 per cent in 2003.

When mobile phones were introduced in the country, they were seen more as a tool to help people with their work/business. However, there has been a significant increase in the use of mobile phones for personal needs and with it an increasing use among the non-working population, the survey points out.

“The utility of the mobile phone… to communicate and stay in touch is on the rise,” Panal said, adding that a third of the users say they use mobile phones “primarily for personal purposes”.

The survey points to a drop in the use of mobile phones for business or official purposes from 28 per cent in 2002 to 18 per cent in 2003.

It also talks about a trend that may be a cause of concern for telecom service providers — users are spending less on mobile telephony needs. According to the survey, “in the stated spends, we see a significant drop in the level of spends in 2003, with 46 per cent of mobile users saying they spend less than Rs 500 per month as against only 28 per cent in 2002”.

In a warning to operators, the survey says: “They need to ensure that they are able to optimise the benefits of the rapidly increasing mobile users’ population and the falling average revenue per user”.

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