Wireless Helps Pvt BSOs Up Market Share To 7% In Q1

Chennai: | Updated: Sep 29 2003, 05:30am hrs
Here is some basic truth from the wired world of telecommunications. It may sound weird but, contrary to the popular notion, it is the M factor that helped private basic service operators (BSOs) increase their market share in recent times to about 7 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal! In other words, it is the wireless technology that helped the private BSOs offering wired telephone services to enhance their presence in the market.

And, with the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) pulling up the government for not taking steps to ensure conformance of basic operators to licence conditions, industry sources raise a question mark over their future growth.

According to figures released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the private BSOs

operating in different telecom circles have increased their market share to 7.30 per cent from a little over 4 per cent during the April-June period of the current fiscal. Out of the total 43.55 million basic telecom connections grossed as on June 30, 2003, private players account for 3.18 million. This is an increase from the 1.17 million they grossed during the fiscal ended March 2003.

However, a little number crunching will reveal that if the much-discussed Wireless in Local Loop (Mobile), better known as WLL (M)-based connections, is not counted, the private BSOs have not gained much ground during the period. The total number of fixed lines excluding WLL (M) connection comes only to 1.1 million as on June 30, 2003, which is equal to 2.52 per cent of the total connections.

According to the figures, WLL (M) connections have increased from 0.10 million in March 2003 to 2.17 million in June 2003, a growth of 600 per cent. Reliance has emerged as the clear leader in the WLL (M) space with its gross connections touching 1.82 million in June this year.

Industry sources admit that the TDSAT ruling against roaming services being offered by BSOs may slow down the overall growth of private telecom players at least for a short while. However, they claim that even with clear demarcation among different segments of services, the private BSOs would be able to maintain the growth momentum in the long run.