Indian Mobile Lines To Overtake Fixed
By Carlo Longino, Fri Jul 02 16:15:00 GMT 2004

Officials in the country say there will be more mobile phones than fixed by the end of the year, though total phone penetration remains low.

Mobile phones currently make up 45 percent of all Indian telephones, though 70 percent of new phones added there in April and May were mobile, the government says, adding that they should make up the majority by the end of the year. But overall telephone penetration was only 7.29 percent at the end of May, up from 5.35 percent a year ago.

The growth in India -- which only had 1 percent penetration 10 years ago -- has been spurred by the country's demonopolization of its telecom industry. Private carriers can now sell mobile service more cheaply and initiate service more quickly than landline providers, and can now sell fixed service as well. More than 90% of the phones sold in April and May were from the private sector.

India still has plenty of potential growth when compared to Western markets like Sweden, which saw its mobile penetration shoot past 100%, meaning there are more mobile subscriptions than people in the country, and is expected to grow to nearly 107% by the end of the year.

Sweden has 8.98 million inhabitants, and now has 9.07 million subscriptions, expected to swell to 9.6 million by the end of the year. Many Swedes reportedly carry separate phones for business and personal use. With India's population of over 1 billion, it's no wonder the mobile industry has high hopes for the country.