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June, 2012

Brief Introduction

Driven by wireless revolution, the Indian telecommunications industry is one of the fastest growing in the world. Government policies and regulatory framework implemented by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have provided a conducive environment for service providers. This has made the sector more competitive, while enhancing the accessibility of telecommunication services at affordable tariffs to the consumers.

According to TRAI's report 'Telecom Sector in India: A Decadal Profile', the tele-density has increased from 4.3 in March 2002 to 78.1 in February 2012, wherein the rural areas registered an increase from 1.2 in March 2002 to 38.5 in February 2012. Also, the share of telecommunication services (excluding postal and miscellaneous services), as per cent of the total gross domestic product (GDP), has increased from 0.96 in 2000-01 to 3.78 in 2009 -10.

According to the same report, international comparisons (among 222 countries) show that India has the second largest number of telephone subscribers in the world accounting for 12 per cent of the world's total telephone subscribers.

Key Statistics

  • In its recent statement issued, TRAI has revealed that the country's mobile subscriber base has reached 951.3 million wherein the operators added 8 million subscribers in March 2012.
  • The overall tele-density in India reached 78.66. The urban tele-density was recorded to be 169.55, while rural tele-density stood at 39.22.
  • Total broadband subscriber base increased from 13.54 million in February 2012 to 13.79 million in March 2012, registering a growth of 1.86 per cent.

Market Size

According to a report 'India Monthly Mobile Handsets Market Review for November, 2011' by CyberMedia, total mobile handset shipments in India reached about 166 million units during the first eleven months of 2011, wherein Finnish handset maker Nokia accounted for 30.7 per cent share of the market, followed by Samsung with 14.9 per cent and Micromax with 5 per cent. The overall shipments included 14.4 million feature phones and 1.07 million smartphones.

Nokia remained the leader in both the feature and smartphone segments, accounting for 30.2 per cent and 38.4 per cent, respectively, of the market.

Smartphone shipments during the period stood at approximately 10 million. Samsung and BlackBerry smartphone-maker Research In Motion (RIM) were the second and third largest players in the smartphone segment with a 27.5 per cent and 15.5 per cent market share, respectively.


Indian handset makers are venturing into smartphone segment by following the features of multinational companies and breaking the Rs 5,000 (US$ 88.6) barrier for entry-level phones. While Micromax is devising a speech-recognition application that replicates Apple's Siri, Karbonn Mobiles has developed its own instant messenger and push-mail service that is similar to BlackBerry's messenger. Karbonn Mobiles, on the other hand, is offering its handset at Rs 4,490 (US$ 80).

The handset makers are targeting college students in tier II and III cities who wish to upgrade from a feature phone, but can't afford to buy premium brands.

Lava has taken a different path to stay in the game. It has partnered with Intel to launch the computer chipmaker's first smart phone Xolo - packed with an Atom processor used in netbooks - only in India. The company hopes to cash-in the 'Intel Inside' faith from consumers while it has launched its product at an entry price of Rs 22,000 (US$ 389.72).