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Kashmir adds million mobile users in ’08

Haroon Mirani

Srinagar, February 28, 2009:

With over one million new subscribers in 2008, the number of mobile subscribers in Indian administered Kashmir has crossed three million.

This marks a 50.98 percent growth from January 2008, which is higher than the 48.47 growth in India during the same period.

According to the data released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the number of GSM based mobile subscribers in Kashmir has reached 3,139,076 at the end of January 2009.

The number of subscribers at the same time in 2008 was 2,039,873.

A total of record 1,001,835 subscribers have been added during the year 2008.

India’s total mobile subscriber base has increased from 233.63 million to 346.89 million during 2008. There has been unprecedented growth of cellular market ever since India lifted the ban on mobiles in Indian administered Kashmir in 2003.

The year 2009 has also started on a positive note with a record number of 172208 subscribers being added in January alone corresponding to the growth of astonishing 5.8 per cent. The growth during January 2008 was 3.8 per cent when 74840 subscribers were added to the overall subscriber base.

The Indian market grew from 346.89 million subscribers to 362.30 at the rate of 4.4 per cent during January 2009.

With 1,517,626 subscribers Airtel enjoys the market share of 48.46 percent and is maintaining a healthy growth.

The state owned BSNL follows at second spot with 931,577 subscribers and the market share of 29.67 per cent.

With a market share of 21.28 percent Aircel at third position is fast catching up its subscriber base of 668,050.

Aircel, however, leads the pack with an astonishing growth rate of 171 per cent.

It added 366089 subscribers to its original figure of 213,261 of January 2008.

At the end of January 2009 the figures for Aircel stood at 668,050. In growth rate Airtel was distant second with 67 per cent growth.

At the end of December 2008 its figure stood at 1,442,521 with the addition of 581920 in the year 2008.

The number of cellular service providers has also increased from three to five with the launch of Tata Teleservices and Reliance Telecommunications.

BSNL is the only cellular company which has started loosing subscribers in 2009.

Although it had added 46424 during the year 2008 to reach the level of 937,410 but now negative growth has crept in.

Almost at the magic figure of one million it has lost 5833 subscribers in January 2009 alone.

Experts cite poor connectivity and poor services as the reasons behind the trend, as subscribers now have more options to choose from amongst better served private players.

The fixed line telephone sector clubbed with CDMA based mobiles has experienced negative growth during the year 2008.

From the high of 261,985 subscribers in January 08, it has plummeted to 242,731 in January 2009.

It has lost a total of 22254 subscribers during 2008.

BSNL was the lone cellular company providing CDMA based mobiles and fixed line telephones during the time.

The growth has been despite some controversies plaguing the cellular companies during the year 2008.

Dozens of their towers had to be removed from the border areas due to severe security regulations. There was also increased scrutiny into the encryption technologies of mobile companies by Indian security agencies, as they fear insurgents were using sophisticated devices to monitor and tap their calls.

After a decade of reluctance, mobile phones were allowed in Indian administered Kashmir in 2003.

The sector has experienced unprecedented growth since then.



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