Telecom operator Reliance Communications has announced that it has crossesd 100 million wireless customers in India, covering GSM, CDMA and probably wireless data cards as well. To celebrate the success the company has unveiled a 100 Million Commemorative Logo and has announced plans of launching services like the 100 Million Caller Tunes. We’ve not experienced either yet.

Airtel had reached the same milestone last year. RCOM had started its operations in 2003 and currently operates both GSM and CDMA networks pan-India. At the end of January, RCOM had 96.60 million connections. Do note that wireless operators often use ‘customers’ and ‘subscribers’ when they should be referring to the total number of ‘connections’.

The Road Ahead

ADA Group Chairman Anil Ambani has said that as they will ‘leap to achieve the 200 million mark’, and the company plans to add the next 100 million customers in an ambitious 1000 days time period. In order to attract users RComm is planning to roll out CDMA mobile broadband network with Internet speed of up to 3.1 Mbps in more than 6 cities within the next 100 days.

We doubt it will be that easy, but at around 3 million customer additions, it doesn’t seem impossible. Heightened level of competition already exists between the established telcos such as Airtel and Idea Cellular besides RCom for customer acquisition. Tata Teleservices which operates CDMA service Tata Indicom and GSM service Tata Docomo with Japanese NTT Docomo  for the past six months has been adding the most number of connection every month. To add to their woes new entrants such as Uninor are eating into their share. Uninor in just two months time of its launch has raked in 2.54 million connections and it is only time that they will start expanding and look at providing a pan India service. Another new entrant Etisalat DB is yet to launch its services.

Financials, ARPU & Churn

Reliance Communications had reported a strong 57.3 percent rise in profit for the quarter ended December 2009 though it was down 19.3 percent YoY. Revenue for the quarter was posted at Rs 52.84 billion down both 3.9 percent QoQ and 6.8 YoY.ARPU for the quarter stood at Rs 149, and revenue per minute was as low as 45 paise. Churn had gone up from 1.3 percent to 2 %.

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