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India's broadband base reaches 13.95M in April; Mobile number portability requests slow down after March peak

India added 1.6 lakh new broadband subscribers in the month of April (as against 2.5 lakh new users added in March) to take the total user base of high speed Internet to 13.95 million, according to the latest report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

According to the telecom regulator, there has been 1.13 per cent growth in April over the previous month (March 2012) and 15.04 per cent growth over April 2011.

This shows the growth for broadband penetration in India, which sputtered in January and February this year only to surprise in March and has come back to its recent average of just over 1 per cent month-on-month growth.

However, this could be hiding another big statistics as consumers are increasingly using Internet on the go. Although Internet speed on handsets is yet to receive great reviews (despite 3G), mobile Internet could well be the game-changer for tech firms.

Mobile subscribers

Meanwhile, the total number of mobile subscribers has risen to 921.02 million, with the addition of 1.85 million new mobile phone users in April.

As per TRAI's data, Tata Tele continues to lead the private telcos losing subscribers and has lost around five lakh users in April. The operators have witnessed a see-saw in the client base since late last year, soon after the company said that it would offer one common brand with Tata DoCoMo cutting across the CDMA and GSM platforms (which meant Tata DoCoMo moves into the CDMA space and all existing Tata Indicom customers are to migrate to Tata DoCoMo).

Other private telcos who lost users or reported shutdown in operations include Etisalat (a late entrant in Indian telecom business and one of the key firms to be affected by the Supreme Court ruling to cancel all new 2G telecom licences over alleged scam), Loop and S Tel.

However, a few other telcos continued to see user addition in spite of an uncertain future in India. For instance, Uninor added 1.1 million new users in April behind Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular.

Active mobile users

Of the total wireless user base in India, around three-fourth happens to be active subscribers. Out of the total 921.02 million subscribers, 686.58 million were active on the date of Peak VLR (Visitor Location Register) for the month of April. The proportion of VLR subscribers is approximately 74.55 per cent of the total wireless subscriber base reported by the service providers.

Circle-wise, J&K has the highest proportion of VLR subscribers, followed by Assam and Madhya Pradesh, while Mumbai has the lowest proportion. Service provider-wise, Idea leads the tally, followed by Bharti.

Mobile number portability

The TRAI report also reveals (based on the data submitted by service providers by the end of April) about 4.58 crore subscribers have submitted requests for porting their mobile numbers. In April alone, 40.1 lakh requests have been submitted for changing service providers while retaining current numbers.

The average mobile number portability (MNP) requests have been around 25 lakh in late 2011 and in November last year, it crossed the 26 lakh-mark for the first time. The MNP requests hit a peak in March this year with 47 lakh before climbing down in April.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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