Growth has accelerated again in the telecom business, with net additions to total GSM subscriber base recording an eight month high at 8.7 million in February as compared to an average of around 6.5-7 million new users in the previous six months, according to data released by industry body COAI. These figures exclude new user numbers of few operators including BSNL, which could push the total even further.
The growth last month came even as it was the first month after the Supreme Court announced cancellation of 2G licences of a bunch of operators including some of the operators clocking high growth. Although this is expected to hit new subscriber additions as some players go out of business, the new subscriber additions in February was even higher than in January when 8.4 million new GSM subscribers were added in India.
New additions had floundered in November after turning tide for the two previous months with a total of 6.67 million new GSM subscribers being added that month compared to net addition of 7.12 million in October. In December it had bounced back again to clock 7.55 million new users.
For the period beginning March the new net additions to total GSM subscriber base was falling sequentially each month. This changed in the month of September which saw net addition of 6.52 million users as against 5.33 million in August.
The total number of GSM subscribers reached 656.8 million at the end of February, covering roughly half of Indian population (not counting people with multiple connections).
Private telecom operator Uninor, which is one of the main operators hit by the ruling of the apex court, continued its momentum with highest growth of 6 per cent last month adding 2.3 million new users to take its total to 41.1 million. Its total new additions was marginally lower than previous month when Uninor added most number of new users pegged at 2.5 million or almost 30 per cent of all new users in January.
The most number of new users was added by Idea Cellular which signed in 2.58 million fresh users in February. Idea happens to be another telco affected by the ruling of the Supreme Court(more on that here. Idea had added just around 1.7 million new users in January, which means overall growth in new users last month was led by Idea Cellular.
Videocon, another firm which will be affected by the court's decision, grew its user base almost as fast as Uninor with 5.9 per cent increase to 6.19 million.
The market is completely dominated by the top 5 players who account for more than 90 per cent of the total market.