Half a billion mobile subscribers in India by 2010 says report

India could have half a billion mobile phone subscribers in two years' time.

Although it took 13 years for India to reach 250 million mobile subscriptions, Informa believes that the second 250 million subscribers will be added in 30 months.

The company believes that increased competition is the Indian market has been driven by tremendous consumer demand, and has resulted in heavy investment from the country's largest operators.

"With a penetration rate of 26%, India is a hugely attractive investment destination, and will continue to be so for many years," said Nick Jotischky, principal analyst at Informa. "Our forecasts suggest that the active subscription rate will remain well below 50% until 2010."

India is the world's second-largest mobile market, and second fastest growing after China.

During the first half of 2008, India's net mobile subscriber base grew by 50 million, just less than China's at 53.6 million. The UK added 410,000 net subscribers over the same period. 

"India has the world's lowest tariffs and supplies some of the cheapest handsets," said Jotischky, "both factors that have helped to drive consumer demand. Increased network coverage as operators expand their population coverage to rural parts of India has also played its part."

Informa believes India will soon enter a second phase of growth, as Indian regulators award 3G licences next year. It predicts there will be 7.5 million W-CDMA connections by the end of 2010, and that there could be more than 120 million by the end of 2013.

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