Mobile subscribers in India continue to soar

BANGALORE, INDIA – The number of mobile users here jumped to 234 million with the addition of 8.2 million subscribers last month, according to the latest figures.

Fixed telephone connections, however, dropped to 39.25 million in December from 39.3 million a month earlier. Fixed lines connections have been falling as customers increasingly prefer mobile connections, particularly in areas where the infrastructure for providing fixed line connections is not developed.

The number of telephones, both fixed and wireless, per 100 people went up to 23.89 percent from 23.2 percent in November, according to data released Tuesday by the telecom regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, in Delhi.

To boost revenue, a number of mobile service providers are now targeting rural markets and less lucrative urban markets with a variety of strategies including by planning to share back-end infrastructure. Some service providers have also introduced low-cost phones for this market.

The emerging category of ultra low-cost handset is seen as a key component in attracting the next billion mobile phone subscribers into the Indian market, according to research firm In-Stat. Ultra low-cost handsets are expected to be stripped-down cell phones offering only the most basic communication experience of voice and text messaging. However, these may not be attractive to some urban users of low-cost handsets who want phones with features, In-Stat said.

Vendors may have to also look at lowering costs of their featured phones by offering refurbished phones, the research firm said.

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