India to soon surpass US in cellphone base

New York, May 10:

India is on track to surpass the US and Russia in mobile phone user base, thanks to the accelerating growth of the wireless communications network in the country, states a study by a leading research firm.

“Adding five million subscribers per month, India will become the world’s second largest mobile phone market by 2008,” states the study — ‘India’s Wireless Market: Model for the Next Phase of Global Wireless Expansion’. The report, authored by wireless expert Chetan Sharma and conducted for Datacomm Research Company, states India’s wireless boom is largely the result of government decisions on competition.

“Its regulatory mechanism can serve as a model for both developing and rich nations,” he said.

“India passed Japan in total subscribers last month. In the next few weeks, it will break through the 100 million subscriber barrier,” Sharma says in the 86-page report released by the St Louis, Missouri-based research firm.

“The number of mobile phone subscribers added each month in India has more than tripled over the past year,” the survey report states.

Another conclusion of the study is that India will spend several billion dollars on wireless infrastructure to accommodate the subscriber growth, improve rural coverage and add advanced services.

“India’s consumers require low-cost handsets. Handsets are now available for as little as $40.

But Indian consumers will spend a little more for enhancements such as the ability to download and play music and games,” it states.

The research study states that as a result of low per-minute charges of under $0.03, most Indian users pay less than $10 per month for voice service, while wireless data yields higher margins with incentives for affordable text, music and video services.