GSM added 8.1 mn (excluding Reliance GSM) new subscribers in the month of Dec’08 which means that including CDMA and Reliance GSM, the monthly net additions is likely to surpass 10.5 mn in Dec’08. Different sources tell us that the active base of subscribers is increasing. This means that the operators may in fact be reporting lower net additions than actuals. The reason behind this is that operators prefer a cleaner base and gives them the leeway in months in which they do not do well. Currently, the number of days of reporting for Airtel and Vodafone is much less than 90 days of grace (could be as low as 10 days).
It is indeed interesting how the operators are adding over 10 mn subscribers though the world is going through difficult economic conditions. It seems that the operators are adding big numbers in the lower tier towns and the rural areas. This is evident from quarter ending Sep’08 data of TRAI. The rural subscriber additions had doubled to over 19 mn in the quarter and the urban subscriber additions had declined significantly. Does it mean that the economic gloom is yet to touch the rural areas and smaller towns? How long will the operators continue to add new subscribers?