India mobile phone penetration to reach 97% in 2014, says iSuppli

Mobile phone ownership has become near ubiquitous in India, with wireless subscriptions in 2014 expected to amount to more than 97% of the country’s population of 1.26 billion, according to iSuppli.With about 19 million new subscribers added each month during the first four months of 2010 alone, India’s wireless subscriptions are growing rapidly. By the end of 2010, total wireless subscriptions are projected to reach 766.0 million-45.9% higher than the 525.1 million subscribers counted at the end of 2009.The pace of growth for the future shows little sign of slackening. Subscriber numbers will continue to increase during the next four years, topping the one billion mark by 2012. By 2014, mobile teledensity − a measure of mobile phone availability − will likely reach 97.4 per 100 persons.”Such high mobile teledensity means that almost everyone, except children and the abjectly poor, will have a cell phone in India, with those having multiple mobiles boosting total subscription rates and compensating for those without,” said Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli.All told, the CAGR for mobile handset subscribers in the world’s second most populous country after China will reach 18.6% from 2009 to 2014.Driving the overall growth of wireless subscribers is the expansion of the rural Indian market, where entry-level handsets are most popular.”A key trend in 2009 was the shift in focus of service providers and handset manufacturers toward the countryside, which continues to offer significant and untapped market opportunity,” Rebello said. “In comparison, the urban market − which accounts for only 30% of the country’s population but represents almost 70% of telecom subscribers − is close to saturation.”Accompanying the surge in wireless subscriber numbers is an equal burst of activity in the country’s wireless infrastructure equipment market. With telecom operators upgrading and expanding existing networks, spending on India’s wireless infrastructure equipment market in 2010 will reach US$10.8 billion, up 29.7% from US$8.3 billion in 2009.

Not surprisingly, a supply chain for telecom manufacturing is emerging, with manufacturers establishing local plants to save on importing costs. Local production capabilities will provide manufacturers with a distinct advantage in the price-sensitive rural Indian market, and various players already have announced their plans to further invest in the expansion of manufacturing and research and development facilities.

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