India's mobile base surges to 63 mln in August

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India's mobile base surges to 63 mln in August
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's booming wireless sector, the world's fastest growing major mobile market, added 2.73 million new users in August, taking the total number of customers to 63.099 million, industry bodies said on Thursday.

The number of net additions in August was higher than the 2.49 million customers that entered the galloping market in July.

The Cellular Operators' Association, representing nine carriers offering mobile services based on the widely prevalent Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication, said 2.039 million customers signed up for its services.

Overall, GSM carriers had 48.914 million customers at the end of August, up 4.35 percent over July.

"We are very hopeful that new additions each month will make a new record," T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association, said. "Networks are being rolled out aggressively in unserved areas.

Even a decade after their launch, wireless facilities cover only a quarter of the country.

Local mobile call tariffs of 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.

India's top mobile services firm, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, added 624,209 GSM wireless users, its highest ever, taking its customer base to 13.413 million subscribers.

After the announcement, Bharti, 30.8 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, closed 1.6 percent higher at 330.30 rupees.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the second-ranked GSM player, had a mobile user base of 11.319 million customers. It added 595,130 subscribers in the past month.

Hutchison Essar Telecom Ltd, the Indian wireless operation of Hong Kong's Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd, added 451,236 mobile users last month. The firm's user base stood at 9.296 million customers.

GSM companies compete with carriers such as Reliance Infocomm Ltd who offer similar services based on code division multiple access technology.

The association representing CDMA operators said these firms signed up 693,876 new users in August, taking their combined user base to 13.035 million customers.

Bombay-based Reliance Infocomm accounted for the bulk of the new CDMA additions. The firm attracted 487,911 customers and raised its mobile user base to 11.134 million.
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