The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has published its latest report detailing the number of mobile subscribers in India as of June 2018. There are now over 993 million mobile connection subscribers in India, and the figure is likely the cross the significant 1 billion mark soon. The report also states that Bharti Airtel remains the biggest mobile operator in India, with 344 million subscribers.
It’s worth noting here that the number of mobile subscribers refers to the number of active mobile connections in India, rather than the number of people with mobile connections. Many mobile users have multiple connections, all of which are counted individually rather than against the single user. While it’s hard to put a firm number on the actual amount of users, even this figure is expected to be around half of the country’s population.
Interestingly COAI data does not include BSNL and MTNL subscribers, and only reflects the numbers for the four major private operators in India – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio. The Uttar Pradesh (East) circle is the most populous with nearly 87 million subscribers, while Maharashtra (which does not include figures for the city of Mumbai as it is a separate circle) has over 83 million subscribers.
Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI, said, “We are glad to see the constant growth of the subscribers’ base and expansion of connectivity in the rural areas. With this increasing reach, people are also shifting to 4G technology. As the Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018 proposes extending exemptions for the construction of telecom towers and provide accelerated Rights of Way permissions for telecom tower, the telecom connectivity will soon reach to the last person of the country. The growth seen in mobile subscribers this month is encouraging, and the industry is working daily to ensure that connectivity reaches the farthest corners of the country.”
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While Airtel is currently the largest by numbers, it is expected to be overtaken by the merged Vodafone-Idea Cellular entity, which got a final approval from the government to go ahead with the merger. The merged entity will have close to 450 million subscribers when complete, and will likely be called Vodafone Idea Ltd.