India sees fastest GSM mobile user growth in Oct

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India sees fastest GSM mobile user growth in Oct
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's booming wireless sector added 2.11 million new mobile users in October, the highest-ever in a single month, taking the total customers using GSM-based services to nearly 53 million, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The wireless telecom services business has boomed as more people use mobile services due to the sluggish growth of fixed-line services, leading to a rise in foreign investment flows in the sector.

The Cellular Operators' Association, representing nine carriers offering the widely-used Global System for Mobile (GSM) services, said the number of additions in October was higher than the 1.96 million users who signed up for a new connection in September.

Local mobile call rates as low as 2 US cents a minute are driving cellular usage in India, where six people in 100 in the more than a billion-strong population use mobile services including CDMA technology.

India's top mobile services firm, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, 30.8 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, added around 670,000 GSM wireless users in October, its highest ever, taking its customer base to 14.74 million.

Last month, UK-based Vodafone Group Plc paid US$1.5 billion to buy a 10 percent stake in Bharti to cash in on the rapidly growing wireless market.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the second-ranked GSM player, has a mobile user base of 12.51 million customers including the around 600,000 subscribers it added last month.

Hutchison Essar Telecom Ltd, the Indian wireless operation of Hong Kong's Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd, added around 410,000 users last month. The firm's user base stood at 10.16 million customers.

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