New telcos added just 5% of active users

Written by Sunil Jain | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 11 2011, 16:36pm hrs
In order to show just how good a job the new telcos (who got cheap spectrum from A Raja) have done, figures are being trotted out to show they accounted for 14-15% of all new cellular mobile subscribers in the last 11-12 months this figure is contrasted with the 5% market share figure that is routinely trotted out for the new telcos (Loop, Uninor, STel, Etisalat and Videocon). Once you take into account the large number of inactive subscribers several of the new telcos have, you find these firms added just 5% of the incremental subscriber base as well.

Between December 2009 and September 2010, these firms added 16.4 million subscribers of the total of 156.4 million that were added by the entire industry thats a market share of 10.4%. But just 5.4 million of the 16.4 million were considered to be active by the telecom regulator Trais latest figures are only for September 2010. Given that 103.2 million of the 156.4 million added by the industry between December 2009 and September 2010 were active, thats a 5% share of the incremental base as well.

Of the new telcos, Uninor added 3.1 million active subscribers (10.1 million total), Videocon added 1.7 million (4.5 million total), STel added 3.7 lakh (1.5 million total), Loop 1.6 lakh (3.3 lakh total) and Etisalat 0.2 lakh (0.6 lakh total). According to Trai data, Bharti Airtel has the highest proportion of active subscribers (89%), followed by Idea at 88%, and Vodafone 75% BSNL is 59%, MTNL 36% and Uninor, which has the highest number of subscribers in the new telcos, is 31%.

Of the new telcos, the CAG found all the 22 licences of Uninor did not meet the eligibility criterion, ditto for Videocon and all 13 for Swan (Etisalat) in the event, the CAG recommended that these licences be cancelled. Even the Trai found that all of Etisalat's 15 licences had failed to meet the rollout obligation and hence should be cancelled. The Trai said the same for eight of Uninor's 22 circles, 10 of Videocon's 22 and 19 of Loop's 20.

The subscriber base for the dual technology RCom and Tata Teleservices has not been added here for two reasons. One, they are not new firms and two, while their cellular mobile subscriber base has increased rapidly, their CDMA mobile subscriber base has remained static in this period. Had these firms not got 'dual technology' GSM cellular spectrum, they would have added to their CDMA mobile customers by probably the same amount that their GSM cellular customer base rose. RComs CDMA subscriber base has remained constant at around 55 million subscribers since September 2009 and the Tatas at around 40 million. While RCom's GSM cellular mobile subscriber base has risen from 38.2 million in December 2009 to 62 million in September 2010, that for Tata Teleservices has risen from 18.7 million to 38.2 million in the same period.