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Taking Stock : TRAI releases report on quarterly sector performance

September 29, 2012
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the performance indicator report for the January-March 2012 quarter. The report is an assessment of the growth trends in the telecom service sector for the quarter. It is based on information furnished by telecom service providers.

The report indicates an increase in the telecom subscriber base (wireless and wireline) from 926.53 million in December 2011 to 951.34 million in March 2012, registering 2.16 per cent growth over the previous quarter. Subscriber growth over the same quarter in 2011-12 stands at 12.41 per cent. The overall teledensity  touched 78.66 per cent in March 2012.

The urban telecom subscriber base increased from 611.19 million in December 2011 to 620.52 million in March 2012, increasing the teledensity in these regions from 167.85 per cent to 169.55 per cent. During the same period, the rural telecom user base grew from 315.33 million to 330.82 million, taking the rural teledensity from 37.48 per cent to 39.22 per cent.  The share of rural users in the total telecom subscriber base increased from 34.03 per cent to 34.77 per cent during the same period.

In the January-March 2012 quarter, the urban segment accounted for only 37.61 per cent of the net subscriber additions as compared to 49.87 per cent in the previous quarter. Rural subscriptions increased from 3.22 per cent in the quarter ended December 2011 to 4.91 per cent in the quarter ended March 2012. Urban subscriptions dropped from 1.63 per cent to 1.53 per cent during this period.

Wireline

The wireline subscriber base declined further, from 32.69 million in December 2011 to 32.17 million in March 2012, bringing down the wireline teledensity from 2.71 per cent to 2.66 per cent during this period.

The rural subscriber base decreased by 13.17 per cent from 8.69 million in March 2011 to 7.55 million in March 2012. During the same period, urban subscriptions declined by 5.43 per cent.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited continued to lead the segment with a market share of 69.84 per cent and a subscriber base of 22.47 million. However, in the quarter ended March 2012, its subscriber base decreased by about 2.33 per cent over the previous quarter. Tata Teleservices Limited  recorded the highest net additions (43,000 subscribers) during the quarter under consideration. Among the circles, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai witnessed growth.

The total number of public call offices (PCOs) in the country at end-March 2012 stood at 2.01 million as compared to 2.37 million at end-December 2011. The number of PCOs dropped by 34.96 per cent in the quarter ended-March 2012 over the same quarter in 2011-12.

The number of village public telephones increased to 583,718 in March 2012 from 583,200 in December 2011. Currently, 98.31 per cent of the country’s 593,731 inhabited villages (as per the 2001 Census) are connected.

Wireless

With 25.33 million net additions during the quarter, the wireless segment continued to follow an upward trajectory.

The wireless (GSM and CDMA) subscriber base registered 2.83 per cent growth over the previous quarter, and increased from 893.84 million in December 2011 to 919.17 million in March 2012. Wireless teledensity increased from 74.15 per cent to 76 per cent during the same period. The wireless subscriber base registered a growth of 13.26 per cent in the quarter ended March 2012 over the same quarter of the previous year.

GSM services continued to dominate the wireless market. The GSM subscriber base stood at 814.06 million, accounting for 88.56 per cent of the total wireless market. The CDMA segment had 105.11 million subscribers and a market share of 11.44 per cent.

Bharti Airtel led the wireless market with a subscriber base of 181.28 million, which accounted for a market share of 19.72 per cent. It was followed by Vodafone India, which has a user base of 150.47 million. Idea Cellular was the leading player in terms of net additions during the quarter, followed by Uninor. Idea also emerged as the service provider with the highest proportion of rural subscribers (53.68 per cent) in its total user base.

Among CDMA operators, Reliance Communications (RCOM) maintained its lead with a subscriber base of 56.06 million and a 53.33 per cent market share. Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited  registered the highest subscriber additions at about 800,000.

Mobile ARPUs

While intense competition continued to impact the ARPUs of telecom operators, the ARPU for GSM services increased by 1.66 per cent.  In the quarter ended March 2012, GSM ARPUs increased to Rs 97 from Rs 96 in the quarter ended December 2011. However, the ARPUs of GSM operators decreased by 2.71 per cent in the quarter ended March 2012 as compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The ARPUs for CDMA mobile services registered an increase of 2.49 per cent, from Rs 73 in the quarter ended December 2011 to Rs 75 in the quarter ended March 2012.

Mobile usage pattern

On account of innovative tariff plans and attractive packages, the monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) for GSM and CDMA services increased marginally. The GSM MoUs per subscriber increased by 4.1 per cent, from 332 in the quarter ended December 2011 to 346 in the quarter ended March 2012. For CDMA subscribers, the monthly MoU per subscriber grew by 1.62 per cent from 226 to 229  during the same period.

Wireless quality of service

During the quarter ended March 2012, the performance of wireless service providers deteriorated with respect to base transceiver stations’ accumulated downtime (not available for service), call drop rates, point-of-interconnection congestion, access to customer care and percentage of calls answered by operators (voice-to-voice) within 60 seconds.

The performance of wireless service providers improved during the quarter in terms of reduced fault incidences, connection with good voice quality, percentage of faults repaired within three days, metering and billing credibility for both post-paid and prepaid connections, and resolution of billing/charging/validity complaints and fault incidences per 100 subscribers per month.

Internet and broadband

The internet subscriber base grew from 22.39 million in December 2011 to 22.86 million in March 2012, registering a quarterly growth of 2.1 per cent. BSNL held a 55.32 per cent market share with an internet subscriber base of 12.64 million at end-March 2012 as against 12.31 million at end-December 2011. RCOM was at the second spot with 3.57 million subscribers, followed by Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, which had a user base of 2.54 million.  The top 10 internet service providers together accounted for 94.94 per cent of the internet subscriber base.

The broadband subscriber base increased from 13.35 million in December 2011 to 13.81 million in March 2012, registering a quarterly growth of 3.44 per cent and a 16.18 per cent increase over the quarter ended March 2011. The broadband segment’s share in the internet subscriber base increased from 59.6 per cent in December 2011 to 60.4 per cent in March 2012. Digital subscriber line was the preferred broadband technology and was used by over 85 per cent of the subscribers.

 
 
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