This news story has got buried, for some reason, with few people I know being aware of it. According to Business Standard, the net addition to the GSM subscriber base has dropped from 6.13 million subscribers in March to 4.13 million subs in April. What gives?
1. As the story suggests, there has been an inexplicable drop of subscribers at MTNL and BSNL alone, among the carriers.
2. The user-verification drive for pre-paid subscribers has led to a sudden drop in subscribers, a one-time phenomenon in all likelihood.
3. The Indian mobile phone industry has hit saturation point.
My own gut tells me that the user-verification drive is the most likely reason for the precipitous fall in numbers (CDMA numbers are not out yet). Hopefully, it’s a one-time correction and the growth will stay on track, especially if the ministry can actually fulfill its promise of making India a unified calling zone (without domestic roaming, i.e.). Nonetheless, if anyone has other ideas on what could be going on, please do comment.
In the meanwhile, it is being reported that Virgin Mobile is finally entering India in a 50-50 tie-up with Tata Teleservices. I think it’s safe to assume that Virgin is going in for this model because MVNO’s are not yet allowed in India.