India Adds Over 9 Million Mobile Subscribers in August

India added 9.16 million mobile subscribers in August, taking the total number of mobile subscribers to over 305 million, according to data released Wednesday by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The country added 9.22 million mobile subscribers in July.

The gains by mobile service providers seem to be in part at the expense of fixed line services, which have been seeing a steady decline in customers. In August, the subscriber base for fixed-line services decreased to 38.63 million from 38.76 million subscribers a month earlier.

The largest telecommunications company, privately owned Bharti Airtel, added 2.7 million mobile subscribers in August to take the total to 74.8 million. It added about 38,533 fixed-line customers in August taking the total to 2.47 million.

The second largest company, government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), added 638,118 mobile subscribers in August to have a total subscriber base of about 43.2 million. Its fixed line subscriber base declined by 209,285 subscribers to 30.5 million.

BSNL has been losing ground to the private sector, but it is likely to have a head start in 3G (third-generation) services, as it has been allotted spectrum ahead of a spectrum auction for private players.

The rapid growth of India's mobile industry has helped take communications to the country's masses, particularly as mobile services companies see the rural market as the next big opportunity.

There were 344 million fixed and mobile telephone connections at end of August in India, which has a population of about 1.13 billion. Broadband penetration is far lower with the country having a total of 4.73 million connections by the end of August.

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