India's Mobile Subscriber Growth Slows in February

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The number of people subscribing to mobile phone services in India dropped in February after a growth spurt caused by an aggressive rollout of GSM services by one operator wound down.

India added 13.82 million new mobile subscribers in February, down from 15.41 million a month earlier, according to data released by the local telecom regulator on Thursday.

Sources at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), however, say growth in mobile subscribers remains strong.

The total number of mobile subscribers in India rose to a total of 376.12 million at the end of February, from 362.30 million at the end of January.

There was a spike in the number of new subscribers in January caused by Reliance Communications' rollout of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) services, the sources said. Reliance previously only offered services based on CDMA (code division multiple access).

Reliance added 3.3 million new subscribers in February taking its total to 69.6 million. It added 5 million new subscribers in January to reach 66.3 million subscribers.

Before the roll-out by Reliance, new subscriber additions had been strong in India at around 10 million a month on an average.

Total subscriber figures for telephones, both fixed and wireless, in February was 414 million, TRAI said.

Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile services company, added 2.7 million mobile subscribers in February to have a subscriber base of 91.1 million.

India is adding new mobile subscribers even as the PC market in the country has been affected by the economic downturn.

PC sales fell 19 percent over the previous year to 1.4 million units in the fourth quarter of last year, according to trade body, Manufacturers' Association of Information Technology (MAIT). The association has forecast that PC sales will be flat this year.

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