Growth picked up again in the telecom business, with net additions to total GSM subscriber base recording a seventh month high at 8.4 million in January 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.
However, the question is whether this would continue in the next few months. Early this month, the Supreme Court announced cancellation of 2G licences of a bunch of operators including some of the operators clocking high growth. This is expected to cause flux when new data for February and subsequent months are released.
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 six months (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 648 million at the end of January, 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, added most number of new users pegged at 2.5 million or almost 30 per cent of all new users last month. It was followed by Idea Cellular, which added 1.7 million additional subscribers in the month. S Tel was the only GSM player losing subscribers last month.
Videocon, another firm which will be affected by the court's decision, sped fastest growing its user base 7.46 per cent in January over December, though on a much lower base.
The market is completely dominated by the top 5 players who account for more than 90 per cent of the total market.