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New telcos strike root

Uninor and S Tel, who had launched their services last month, have added 1.2 million and 140,000 subscribers within a month of their launch.

According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) figures on GSM cellular subscribers for December 2009, two new GSM telecom operators, Uninor and S Tel, who had launched their services in the country last month, have added 1.2 million and 0.1 million (one lakh) subscribers within a month of their launch. In comparison, established players Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar added 2.8 million and 2.7 million subscribers respectively in December 2009.
Uninor, the venture between Norway’s Telenor and India’s Unitech group, is currently present in eight telecom circles but holds a pan-India license to offer services in each of India’s 22 circles with spectrum to roll out these services in 21 of the 22 circles.

Notably, Uninor has acquired 2.6 lakh subscribers in Karnataka, 2 lakh in Tamil Nadu, over one lakh subscribers each in Uttar Pradesh (West), Uttar Pradesh (East), Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, and less than a lakh in Kerala and Orissa.
S Tel has acquired 16,327 users in Himachal Pradesh, 67,675 users in Orissa and 57,409 in Bihar. The company is a joint venture between Siva Group (formerly Sterling Infotech Group) and BMIC Limited, a subsidiary of Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco). Apart from the three circles where S Tel is already present, it will launch its services in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North East circles soon. The company has license and spectrum to operate in six C circle towns.
The COAI statistics also show that the number of GSM subscribers added by MTNL in December 2009 is significantly less than the number of users added by it in November. The state-owned telco registered 57,000 subscribers in December as opposed to 73,000 in November.
However, the other state telco, BSNL, added about two million users in December as compared to 1.2 million in the previous month. Its market share stands at 15 per cent.

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