While their overall customer base is on a downward spiral, India's telcos are expected to add about 48.9 million new subscribers between this year and 2014, thanks to greater penetration into the country's rural areas.
Telcos are beefing up their emphasis on the "rural thrust", which will lead to the majority of new subscribers coming from the rural population, The Hindu Business Line said Sunday, citing a report from local economic think-tank, Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
Urban areas in India are over-penetrated with a tele-density of 159.5 percent, according to CMIE. Rural areas, on the other hand, clock at just 40.6 percent, presenting many opportunities for operators to grow their customer base there.
The report said Indian telco subscriber numbers had fallen nearly 36 percent, mainly due to telcos cleaning up their subscriber records as well as the implementation of the mobile number portability (MNP), which was introduced countrywide in 2011. Since then, over 75 million subscribers have opted to change carriers while keeping their phone numbers, it noted.
It added that around 30 million users also had their lines disconnected between July and October 2012 due to clean-up exercises conducted by their service providers.
CMIE also said, this year, it expects carriers to lose some 35.9 million users, leaving an overall base of 915.5 million. It attributed the dip to operators' continuing efforts to clean up their records and the exits of market players due to lost licenses.