India Hits #2 Spot on Cellphone Market

Overtook U.S. and is now behind China

India added a record 10 million mobile phone subscribers in March to overtake the U.S. and become the world's second biggest cellphone market after China, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said April 25.

The latest figures brought the number of wireless subscribers in March to 261.09 million.

India's mobile market is the world's fastest growing. India crossed the 100-million cellular subscriber mark in May 2006 and the 200 million mark in September 2007. "India has become the second largest wireless network in the world after China by overtaking USA, as per (official) data available," the regulator said.

The proportion of people owning a telephone out of every 100 of the population rose to 26% from 25% the previous month. The government is aiming for more than half a billion mobile phone subscribers by 2010.

India's mobile revolution is mainly confined to the cities, but the real prize for phone companies is the vast rural market, where nearly 70% of India's more than 1.1 billion population live, analysts say. By the end of 2008, at least three-quarters of India's population is expected to be covered by a mobile network.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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