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Mobile users to outnumber wireline users by 2005

TRAI said that mobile phone connections in India will take over wireline connections by 2005.

business Updated: Oct 13, 2003 12:50 IST

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Saturday said that mobile phone connections in India would take over wireline connections by the year 2005.

"Worldwide, this has already happened. I am certain that in India mobile connections will take over wireline connections by 2005," TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal said in New Delhi, addressing an 'open house' on spectrum management organised by FICCI and DoT.

Asking the industry to be ambitious and aim for growth of over 200 per cent, Baijal said, "Even with growth less than that, mobile will overtake wireline by 2005."

TRAI had earlier said that cellular, WLL and wireline telephony services had added 1.9 million subscribers this August and the sector was all set to add over 20 million subscribers by end of this fiscal year.

"If a similar growth trend is maintained during the year, the total addition to subscriber base during the year is projected to exceed 20 million taking the gross subscriber base of cellular and basic services beyond 70 million by end of 2003-04," TRAI had said in a statement issued earlier this week.

During the period in reference, cellular operators added 1.09 million subscribers while WLL (M) connections went up by around 0.68 million against 1.2 million in July.

In comparison the growth in the wireline subscriber base during August was lower at 38,000. WLL fixed subscribers increased by 76,000 in August. Thus the subscriber base for fixed lines increased by 1.14 lakh in August 2003.

Asked about the latest move by cellular operators to raise national and international SMS rates, Baijal said TRAI was "discussing" the matter with the players.

"We are discussing whether its all right (to do so) or not, the quantum of hike in rates etc. But ultimately, it is forbearance rates and we do not control it at present."

Elaborating on the spectrum management issue, Baijal said till a few years ago spectrum was freely available and was allocated to defence and railways, and that there would be problems in getting spectrum back for allocation to telecom customers.

"Within the industry, there has to be a trade-off between what should be the spectrum pricing and the kind of equipments required for optimum utilisation of available spectrum," Baijal pointed out.

Comparing telecom market in India with China's, Baijal noted that number of mobile phones in use in China was 20 times that of India last year.

"There must be something wrong. It is important that we now follow a pattern of low price and high subscriber growth rate. I can see that the telecom operators in India have realised this," he said.

First Published: Sep 13, 2003 20:03 IST