India adds record 15.6 mn new phone users in March (Lead)

New Delhi, April 22 (Inditop) Showing no signs of any slowdown and backed by heavy rural demand, India added a record 15.87 million new phone connections in March, to take its telecom density to nearly 40 percent, fresh data said Wednesday.

India, which already boasts of the second-largest telecom user base in the world after China’s and ahead of the US, now has 429.72 million telecom subscribers, both in the wireless and mobile segments, with a record growth of 59.48 percent last fiscal.

“With this growth, the overall tele-density has reached 36.98 at the end of March 2009 as against 35.65 in February 2009,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the industry watchdog, said in a statement.

The maximum growth, the data showed, came in the wireless market, which expanded by 15.64 million subscribers in March, to 391.76 million. In the wire-line segment, the subscriber base increased by 230,000 connections to 37.96 million.

The broadband base also continued to expand at an equally fast pace to 6.22 million against 5.85 million in February, said the industry watchdog.

Industry has been attributing the fast expansion last fiscal, in spite of an overall economic slowdown, to the growing appetite in rural areas. Studies show that India’s demand in the hinterland remained robust, as against the decline in urban centres.