Vodafone is neck and neck with R Com

Even as Bharti Airtel remains the clear leader with over 69 million subscribers, there is a close race for the second slot. Earlier this week, Reliance Communications stated it had crossed the 50-million mark (both GSM and CDMA). Now Vodafone Essar, too, has gone past the 50-million subscriber mark. While RCOM has held on to its second place for about three years now, one will have to wait for the month-end (when all telcos release their growth figures) to see if Vodafone Essar can snatch this position. As of June-end, both RCOM and Vodfaone Essar had over 49 million customers. Unlike Bharti and RCOM, which have a pan-India presence, Vodafone Essar operates in only 16 of the 22 circles. Vodafone Essar has also become the sixth telco in Asia to have over 50 million customers in a country. In fact, three of the six telcos who have 50 million plus users in a country are from India with the others being China Telecom, China Mobile and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo. China Mobile leads the pack with over 414 million subscribers as of June-end, followed by China Unicom with 170 million customers, Bharti Airtel with about 69 million and NTT DoCoMo with about 54 million.At the same time, it is also possible that RCOM may continue to hold on to its second place in the considerable future as it has a larger reach — its CDMA operations are available in all 22 circles while Reliance Telecom, its GSM arm, offers services in eight circles. Besides, the telco will soon announce the GSM rollout in the remaining 14 circles, too. Of RCOM’s 50-million plus subscribers, the GSM base accounts for just a little over 8 million. The race will continue to be tightly fought as Vodafone Essar, too, is in the process of launching operations in the remaining six circles soon. Meanwhile, in a related development, RCOM sources said the company had completed testing of its GSM network in 100 top cities while adding that initial signal testing has been successful and was in advanced testing stages.“Equipment installation, which includes MSC, core switch and auxiliary equipment, pre-paid & billing systems, has been tested and completed in the top 250 cities. The nation-wide GSM launch is scheduled by fiscal end and the company has already made investments of about $1 billion. Equipment orders have been placed with Huawei and Alcatel Lucent,” a source said. RCOM sources also added that the telco would target a monthly growth rate of 3 million subscribers on completion of its GSM network. Last month, Bharti Airtel had set a national record by adding 2.5 million users in June
COAI hits out at CDMA cos The GSM operators on Wednesday hit out at CDMA companies for demanding that the former be charged market rates for all radio frequencies they hold over the 6.2 MHz limit. The Cellular Operators Association of India on Wednesday said that ‘licence terms have been outlined by successive governments over a decade ago and the allegation of CDMA stakeholders tantamounts to raising fingers at every government and administration over the last decade and accusing them of acting in an extra-constitutional and unauthorised manner’. Last week, following Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s demands that GSM players be charged for ‘extra spectrum, the COAI written to the prime minister saying that allegations of GSM players holding excess spectrum were “completely baseless and incorrect”. These developments come even as the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the CDMA body, has moved TDSAT asking that excess spectrum be taken back from GSM operators.

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