May 3: The country’s telecom subscriber base, mobile and landline combined, touched the 118-crore mark at the end of February 2017, growing 1.17% over the previous month, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) numbers.
The market growth was propelled by the addition of 1.37 crore mobile users during the month. The demand for the once-popular landline phone has nosedived as the cheap mobile handsets, coupled with falling tariffs and freebies, have led to an explosion in cellphone connectivity.
Over the past few months, operators, including newcomer Reliance Jio, and incumbents like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have been doling out attractive offers and unleashing high-decibel marketing campaign to woo customers. “The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,174.80 million at the end of January 2017 to 1,188.5 million at the end of February 2017, showing a monthly growth rate of 1.17 per cent,” Trai said.
The urban connectivity went up to 692.15 million in February-end, from 681.15 million in January-end, a growth of over 1.6 per cent. The pace of growth of rural connectivity was slower at 0.56 per cent. Rural telecom users increased to 496.39 million from 493.65 million during the same period.
The Indian telecom market is the second-largest in the world after China in terms of subscriber base and added 13.75 million mobile customers in February. This pushed up the total mobile subscriber base to 1.16 billion.
The wireline connections which have been losing sheen over the last few years remained flat with subscriber base stagnant at about 24.35 million. Lesser number of people sought network port outs in February compared to the previous month. Nearly 5.6 million subscribers submitted requests for mobile number porting in February, compared to 6.24 million placing such request in January this year. “In February 2017, 5.67 million subscribers submitted their requests for mobile number portability (MNP),” Trai said.
With this, the cumulative requests increased from 261.06 million at the end of January 2017 to 266.73 million at the end of February since ringing in the MNP nearly seven years ago.