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Q109: Quarterly India Internet & Mobile Numbers, And A Wireless Internet Story

The TRAI has released a report on the performance of telecom services, downloadable here. Some details we gleaned from the exhaustive 126 page report.

Wireless Internet
What surprised me most is the suggestion that there were 75.97 million wireless Internet users in India at the end of June 2008 (Q109). If you read the fine print (and we did), here’s the truth: that is essentially the number of users capable of accessing data services including Internet through mobile handset (GSM/ CDMA), and not the actual number. So even the growth in this base is not indicative of usage trends: June 2007 – 38.02 million, Sep 2007 – 46.37 million, Dec 2007 – 57.83 million, March 2008 – 65.50 million, June 2008 – 75.97 million.

Industry insiders have told us the number is more likely between 10-15 million users accessing the wireless Internet, and mobile operators have also spoken about an increase in the depth of WAP usage among customers. But, but, but – it’s NOT 75.97 million, and it looks like there’s spin involved in numbers even from regulators.

— 11.6 million dialup subscribers by the end of Q109, up marginally by 510,000

— Around 5604 subs added per day.
— Growth rate declined Quarter on Quarter – from 7.08 percent in Q408 to 5.09% in Q109
— ARPU of Rs. 225
— Subscriber base: BSNL has base of 5.94 million (up from 5.64 million last quarter), MTNL has 1.92 million, while Airtel has 0.87 million.
Important: very low usage on dialup – of only 225 minutes per subscriber per month. The high cost of dialup may have something to do with this – it’s an ARPU/minute of Re. 1.

— 4.38 million at the end of Q109, up from 3.87 million at the end of Q408
— Growth rate of 13.18%.
— The split:

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DSL: 3.72 million
Cable Modem: 0.42 million
Ethernet LAN: 0.11 million
Fiber: 0.045 million
Leased Lines: 0.018 million

Important: 58.97% of wireline service providers reported more than 3 fault incidences per 100 subs per month. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s underreporting of faults.


— Total subscriber base of 212.51 million, up from 192.70 million in the previous quarter.
— Growth for this quarter is 10.28 percent
— Bharti Airtel is the largest GSM operator, with 69.38 million subs, Vodafone has 49.20 million, BSNL has 36.36 million and Idea has 27.19 million.

— All India blended ARPU has declined by 9.3% from Rs. 234 Rs. 264 in March to Rs. 239 in June
— Postpaid ARPU declined to Rs. 600, down 5.9% from Rs. 638 in March
— Prepaid service ARPU declined to Rs. 204, down 8.9% from Rs. 224/- in March
— Minutes of Use: increased to 505 from 493 in Q1
Metros have the lowest outgoing Minutes of Use per subscriber
Outgoing SMS per subscriber continued to decline. Rate of decline has doubled to 14.5% in the quarter under review from a 7% decline in the quarter ending March 2008.

— Total subscriber base is 74.36 million, up from 68.37 million in the previous quarter.
— The growth in this quarter is 8.76% as against 11.37% for the previous quarter.
— Reliance remains the largest CDMA mobile operator (42.71 million subs) followed by Tata Teleservices (26.33 million) and BSNL (4.59 million respectively.

— All India blended ARPU has declined to Rs. 139, from Rs. 159 for the quarter ending March 2008.
— According to the revenue reports submitted by the service providers for the quarter ending June 2008, revenue, net of “pass through”, from CDMA full mobility service is Rs. 2332.68 crores which was 2410.00 crores in the quarter ending March 2008 registering a decline of 3.20%.
— Postpaid ARPU was 3.95 times than that of prepaid ARPU – attributed to declining importance of processing fee on recharge coupon/ voucher purchased by prepaid subscribers.
— The total MOU per subscriber/ month has shown decline to 354 from 364 in March
— Outgoing MOU has shown increase to 182 from 180 per subscriber per month in previous quarter

Other noteworthy facts:
— The Gross Revenue and AGR of the Public Sector units in Telecom Sector is Rs.9756 Crores and Rs.8467 Crores respectively as against Rs.12233 Crores and Rs.10417 Crores for the previous quarter.
– The Gross Revenue and AGR of the Private Sector enterprises in Telecom Sector is placed at Rs.25555 Crores and Rs.18524 Crores respectively as against Rs.23537 Crores and 17427 Crores for the previous quarter.
– Average % of License Fee paid by Telecom Service Providers to AGR is 8.58% and Average % of Spectrum Charges to AGR is 2.76%.

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