India may have already overtaken the United States to become the world's second largest mobile phone market in terms of subscribers after China, industry officials said on Thursday.
According to data available with apex bodies of GSM and CDMA operators, the number of mobile phone subscribers in India stood at 260 million at the end of March as compared to 262 million in the US. But, with monthly additions of new connection averaging 8 million in India, the total number of subscribers in India as on date may have gone past those in the US. In the US, monthly additions have averaged about 2 million connections.
India may now be second only to China, which had about 540 million connections at the end February.
The total number of wireline and wireless telephone connections in India has also crossed 300 million connections.So far, much of the growth in the Indian mobile phone sector has come from the demand in cities and towns, where rising incomes and falling costs of mobile phone ownership has helped India emerge the world’s fastest growing telecom market.
According to Industry experts, the numbers in urban areas are fast approaching a plateau and operators are working towards offering innovative value added services like mobile commerce, advanced email and social networking on mobile phones. Experts also say that further growth in the Indian market will hinge upon what happens to the demand for phones in the rural countryside, where less than 5 per cent of people own a phone.