Discussions  on the mobile Internet space in India have always bordered on speculation – no one knows exactly how many handsets are data capable, how many users are using data services, how many are just on-deck with operator portals and how many have experienced the world wild web.

We’ve heard anecdotes and bits and pieces of information, but little to provide a complete picture. Some examples:

– Indians were the number one users of the now defunct Mosh from Nokia
– India is now among the 10 most active users of Nokia’s Ovi store
– Airtel’s App store saw 2.5 million application downloads in its first month
20% of searches on Google India are from the mobile
– Aircel’s GPRS users grew from 30,000 in May 2009 to 1.7 million in October 2009, data revenues grew by 7 times between January and October 2010

There is probably more anecdotal evidence out there (please share more instances with us in the comments, and we’ll update this list)

But how many active data connections are there in India, whether limited to on-deck services (on operator portals alone), or the mobile Internet? According to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the total number is 149.09 million subscribers (we prefer the term ‘connections’). The telecom operator-wise distribution is as follows:

While we don’t know how many of these are active users, or merely using on-deck operator portals, these do appear to be the number of ‘activated’ connections per telecom operator. Remember that this is five month old data, and since then, several telecom operators have launched packages that offer free access to certain specific mobile Internet websites. That said, there are 9 million activated broadband connection in India as of

What’s also worth noting in our calculations, is the conversion rates. Some telecom operators, like Bharti Airtel, have automatically enabled data access with new SIM cards, which allow everyone to access their on-deck portal. Loop appears to have done the same, with a remarkably high conversion rate, and BSNL’s is impressive as well. One would have expected a higher conversion ratio from Vodafone, though. At the time this was reported, Unitech Wireless/Uninor had not yet launched its GPRS services.

Also begs the question – is data a Value Added Service? Should data access – even if it is pay-per-use – be an always on option, or should consumers have to subscribe to it as a value added service? Consumers for whom data was automatically enabled could well complain that it was without double confirmation, and they didn’t know they were accessing the web.

So, what do you make of this data? Also, if you have any more data points to share with us, please leave a comment with a  link below.


Top 50 mobile sites, accessed using Opera in India, as per Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report for November 2009. We’ll update this with the latest figures by Monday:

1. www.google.com
2. m.orkut.com
3. mail.gmail.com
4. m.facebook.com
5. en.wikipedia.org
6. www.songs.pk
7. m.youtube.com
8. m.yahoo.com
9. wap.in
10. m.zedge.net
11. peperonity.com
12. m.mobikama.com
13. m.frenzo.com
14. www.mocospace.com
15. m.getjar.com
16. gallery.mobile9.com
17. vuclip.com
18. www.cricinfo.com
19. secure.icicidirect.com
20. m.mobiluck.com
21. wap.mobango.com
22. wap.operamini.getjar.com
23. www.nseindia.com
24. money.rediff.com
25. www.ownskin.com
26. www.w8u.net
27. www.exbii.com
28. hungama.net2service.com
29. en.m.wikipedia.org
30. pappu.mobi
31. www.tataindicom.com
32. wapking.mobi
33. www.bseindia.com
34. f5mail.rediff.com
35. www.wap.in
36. m.mbmgl.com
37. yaarmaar.com
38. m.hi5.com
39. enter.brazzersmobile.com
40. djmasti.net
41. m.heysan.com
42. apniside.com
43. ind.cricinfo.com
44. m2.ibibo.com
45. 3gpsearch.com
46. waptop.eu
47. www.cricketnirvana.com
48. live.cricbuzz.com
49. downloadwap.com
50. m.ibibo.com