India Adds 10M Mobile Subscribers Despite Economic Downturn

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India added 10.07 million mobile subscribers in September, according to data released Friday by the local telecom regulator.

The large addition in subscribers comes amid concerns that the Indian economy may be getting hit by a downturn in the local stock markets, and weaker consumer spending.

India's mobile telephony sector has been booming for more than a year now. The country added 9.22 million mobile connections for example in July, and another 9.16 million connections in August, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

Some of the gains in mobile connections in September also came from a continuing decline in the number of fixed line connections. The subscriber base for fixed line has dropped in September to 38.35 million from 38.63 million in August.

In contrast, the total number of mobile connections in the country at the end of September was 315.3 million.

The shift from fixed to mobile connections has affected government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL). It is the largest in the fixed line business, as it was the first company allowed to operate in this sector. BSNL has however not been able to take the lead in the more competitive mobile connections market.

BSNL's fixed line subscribers dropped to 30.12 million in September from 30.45 million in August. Its mobile business grew marginally from 43.2 million in August to 43.86 million in September.

Privately owned Bharti Airtel, the market leader in mobile telephony, saw its mobile subscriber base grow to 77.5 million in September from 74.8 million in August.

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