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India cellphone base to cross US in New Year

As per the data released by the Cellular Operators Association of India, the country’s mobile phone penetration will surpass the US and takes its spot as the biggest after China, reports Archana Khatri.

business Updated: Dec 25, 2007 03:20 IST
Archana Khatri

The New Year is set to mark a new milestone in the global economy. From all indications, India’s mobile phone market in terms of number of subscribers is set to overtake the United States and take its spot as the biggest after China.

In data released on Monday, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the country’s mobile phone subscribers crossed 225 million at the end of November.

According to COAI officials, United States had 250 million subscribers at the same time, up from 248 million in August, as a market near saturation moved slowly.

Compared with that India is adding about 8 million wireless subscribers every month. At the current run rate, in about four months from November, India’s mobile phone penetration would be matching that of the US.

"The key factor that will help India to overtake US in the wireless mobility market is that in the US, the fixed line local calls are free and have not been not seen the negative growth like India", said industry analyst Mahesh Uppal.

In the US, there is always an incentive to use the fixed line, while in India the fixed line network is limited, and inefficient in some regions.

However, India’s gain pertains only to the number of connections and not the revenue from them, which is higher in affluent US.

Overall, India’s telecom market crossed 264 million connections with a tele-density of 23.21 per cent at the end of November 2007. But most new additions are taking place on wireless lines.