NEW DELHI: India added a record 7.7 million mobile users in October to its GSM-based networks, an industry body said, as operators maintained rapid
expansion despite signs of a slowing economy.
Total GSM mobile users at the end of October numbered 241.4 million, up 3.3 percent from 233.7 million in September, data from the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), which represents nine telecoms firms, showed on Tuesday.
The October user additions do not include signings by No. 2 operator Reliance Communications. Reliance, which predominantly uses CDMA technology but has some GSM customers, had 56.1 million total wireless users at end-September.
The company releases its monthly additions separately. Top operator Bharti Airtel added 2.72 million new users in October, taking its total base to 80.2 million, while Vodafone -controlled Vodafone Essar added its highest ever number of new users -- 2.1 million -- to take its base to 56.7 million.
No. 4 operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd added 669,551 new users to have a base of 39.8 million users, while fifth-ranked Idea Cellular signed up 1.2 million users in October to have a total of 31.6 million.
India is the world's fastest growing market for mobile phone services and the second-largest market for such services after China. Other than the GSM-based telecom users, it also has a substantial number of users using CDMA technology.
Asia's third-largest economy is feeling the effects of global financial turmoil and policy makers are gradually ratcheting down their growth expectations. Many now say economic expansion is likely to slow to 7 per cent in the year to March 2009, from 9 per cent in the previous year.
But analysts and officials from Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have said demand for telecoms should hold up even if overall economic growth slows
6 months ago