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Broadband Users At 13.3M; 3.4M Mobile Users Switch Cellular Operator In Dec

India added 1.7 lakh new broadband subscribers in the month of December(1.5 lakh in November) to take the total user base of high speed Internet to 13.3 million, according to the latest report released by telecom regulator.

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there has been a growth of 1.3 per cent in December over the previous month (November 2011).

Meanwhile, the total wireless mobile subscriber base has risen from 884.37 million at the end of November to 893.84 million in December, registering a growth of 1.07 per cent.

What we found interesting is the sharp swing in numbers compared to the previous month, when apparently the net addition was just 2.97 million subscribers due to massive disconnection of 5.22 million from the existing wireless subscribers. Bulk of this came from Tata Tele that lost over 4.4 million users or about 5 per cent of its total users in a single month. As per Trai's data, Tata Tele lost around one in ten users in Mumbai and Delhi besides seeing loss in subscriber base in most other states in November. We had noted this here.

This was a huge number for any operator to lose in a month and this came right after the company said it will offer one common brand- Tata Docomo cutting across the CDMA and GSM platforms( which meant Tata Docomo moves into the CDMA space and all the existing Tata Indicom customers to migrate to Tata Docomo).

Tata Tele bounced back fairly quickly even though the net addition in December for the firm is not much to write about as it added just over 1 lakh new users and was even beaten by PSU telco BSNL on that front, not to talk about other bigger private players.

In December, only Videocon and S-tel saw drop in subscriber numbers.

Of the total wireless user base in India, around one in four are not active subscribers. Out of the total 893.84 million subscribers, 646.77 million were active on the date of Peak VLR for the month of December (The total active VLR number excludes the CDMA VLR figure of BSNL, as the service provider has not provided the VLR figures of their total CDMA subscriber base of 4.33 million). The proportion of VLR subscribers is approximately 72.3 per cent of the total wireless subscriber base reported by the service providers.

Circle-wise, J&K has the highest proportion of VLR subscribers with 83.11 per cent followed by Madhya Pradesh(78.45 per cent) and Maharashtra (78.06 per cent); Mumbai has the lowest proportion with 60.79 per cent. Service provider wise, Idea leads the tally with 92.98 per cent followed by Bharti (90.02 per cent); Etisalat is at the bottom with 25.45 per cent. This means the report found just about one in four of Etisalat subscribers are actively using their number.

The TRAI report also reveals (based on the data submitted by service providers by the end of December) about 2.92 crore subscribers have submitted requests for porting their mobile number with December alone witnessing a submission of 34.03 lakh(26.71 lakh in November) requests for changing service provider while retaining the number.

The average mobile number portability (MNP) requests have been around 25 lakh for the past few months and in November it crossed the 26 lakh number for the first time. The December mark is an all-time high translating into one in every 260 mobile users in the country switching their operator in a month.

Out of the total MNP requests till end of December, Gujarat (27.69 lakh) reported the highest number requests in the MNP zone-I (northern and western India). Following it was Maharashtra (23.13 lakh).  In the MNP Zone-II that includes southern and eastern India, Karnataka (28.33 lakh) tops the list while the Andhra Pradesh circle came second with 26.87 lakh requests.

So, cellular services providers in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are finding it most difficult to hold on to consumer loyalty.

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