A Guide to India's Telecom Market

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) , the total number of telecommunications services connections reached nearly 414 million at the end February 2009, of which more than 90 percent were wireless.

In stark contrast to the mind-boggling growth experienced in the mobile sector, fixed voice connections have suffered a gentle decline in recent years: At the end of February 2009, India, a country of nearly 1.2 billion inhabitants, had just 37.73 million fixed-line connections.

India's fixed-line sector is not dead, though: There's potential growth in that market, too, as well as in the wireless world, though the big numbers and the immediate impact will continue to come in the mobile sector.

There are two obvious ways for the service providers to expand. The first is, quite simply, to connect more people. Teledensity is rising steadily but had only reached 35.65 percent at the end of February 2009, leaving significant potential for additional market expansion.

The majority of growth will now come from outside the metro circles and in the smaller cities, towns, and rural villages as teledensity in the major urban centers has reached 82 percent. It's worth noting that 70 percent of the Indian population lives in rural areas, and, equally importantly, 64 percent of the nation's expenditure and 56 percent of its income comes from these villages – yet India's rural teledensity currently stands at less than 13 percent.

It's the potential for rural area growth that drew five new players into the market in 2008, and it's that same potential that prompted a number of international players,


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