GSM subscriber figures for Feb 2010 in India

I have never believed in these figures. But for sake of those who follow this blog, here are latest GSM customer acquisition figures in India.

As per data provided by the GSM operators' lobby Cellular Operators Association of India, the GSM mobile user base in India touched a little over 400 million (407 million). The country's GSM mobile subscriber base has increased by 13 million to 407 million in February, with Vodafone Essar adding the maximum number of new customers in the past month. This is, however, less than the total addition of 14.4 million users in January.

The country's second largest GSM player Vodafone Essar added as many as three million customers in the past month, closely followed by Bharti Airtel. Vodafone Essar's touched an user-base of 97 million. Airtel added 2.9 million users last month against 2.85 million in January taking its total mobile user base to 124 million. Bharti has a market share of 30.55 per cent, while Vodafone Essar has 23.84 per cent. Aditya Birla's Idea Cellular added 2.25 million new users during the month, taking its total subscriber base to 62 million. It has a market share of 14.96 per cent.

State-run BSNL and private operator Aircel added 1.5 million and 1.8 million new users respectively in the month with their user base at 61 million and 34 million each. BSNL's market share reached 14.96 per cent. The major gainer in the month has been MTNL which added 86,706 new users in February from 45,067 in January.
(Note - Figures are courtesy TRAI reports and Economic Times news)

China Mobile sees reversal in ARPU trends!

Given the fact that telecom industry in India has followed the trend in China with a time lag, I think this is very encouraging news for Indian telecom sector as well.

  China Mobile Ltd, the Hong Kong listed subsidiary of China Mobile Corp., has reported that its full-year revenues for 2009 rose by 9.8% to RMB452.1 billion (US$66 billion). Net profit was also up, by 2.3% to RMB115.2 billion (US$16.8 billion). EBITDA rose 5.9% to RMB229 billion (US433.5 billion), with EBITDA margin reaching 50.7%. The total customer base at the end of 2009 reached 522 million, of which 65.03 million were net additions. The contribution to total revenue from value-added business increased substantially, including revenue generated from Mobile Music, which again exceeded RMB10 billion.

In 2009, the average minutes of usage remained steady at 494 minutes, and monthly ARPU rose slightly to RMB77, countering a general downward trend over the past few years. Looking into the future, the continuing impact of the global financial crisis on the Chinese economy, the change in the competitive landscape, the increasing mobile penetration rate and the convergence across telecommunications, Internet and Radio & TV Broadcasting networks all pose fresh challenges to the Group's future development. The company added that it will maintain its policy of overseas expansion and will also continue development in LTE services for the Chinese market.

Fund raising will be the key concern for Indian Telecom service providers in 2010-11

As per Economic times - Nine cellphone companies have joined the fray for just three 3G spectrum slots while 11 companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and Aircel, have bid for broadband wireless spectrum, which will allow them to provide wireless internet services.

One more interesting news was floating around. RCOM has said that it has crossed the 100-million mark in wireless customers and would explore both acquisition and expansion opportunities to strengthen its foothold in the domestic market. RCOM expects to add another 100 million customers within the next 1,000 days.

I think the time is ripe in Indian Telecom industry for consolidations. 3G auctions will be followed by M & A activity provided the auctions do not stretch the balance sheets too far. Amid ongoing price wars it would take serious efforts to raise funds for acquisitions. With interest rates moving north - the funds requirements for overseas acquisition , 3G auctions and M&A within India will be difficult to balance. The winners may emerge from those who will be able to balance fund requirements rather than balance the operations. Is Bharati listening?

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