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India's Idea Says Adds 1M 3G Users Since March Launch

Idea Cellular , India's sixth-biggest mobile phone operator, said on Thursday it had added a million users for its third-generation (3G) services within a month of its launch.

Idea, which launched 3G services in March, currently offers such services in 400 towns across nine telecom zones. It aims to expand the service to 750 towns by mid-2011, and 4,000 towns by the end of the current fiscal year in March next year, it said.

"Data usage by Idea's 3G users is already at 20 percent of the total mobile data usage recorded by the company, and this is expected to grow exponentially," Chief Marketing Officer Sashi Shankar said in a statement.

India is the world's fastest-growing mobile market by customer additions, but carriers in the fiercely competitive market operate under wafer-thin margins as they offer among the cheapest voice call prices.

Telecom firms bought costly 3G radio airwaves in a state auction last year and have launched premium services that allow faster Internet browsing on mobile phones, in the hope of boosting revenues from data services. (Reporting by Prashant Mehra; editing by Malini Menon)

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