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India pips China to become world's fastest growing telecom mkt
India has pipped China to become the world's fastest growing market, thanks to the various "innovative" ways such as infrastructure
sharing and network management outsourcing adopted by it that has also helped telecom operators keep the service charge low, says a report.

Terming India as "world's fastest growing (telecom) market", global rating agency Moody's today said in the past 18 months, "India's net additions of 10 million (subscribers) per month have far outpaced China's monthly rate of increase, now below eight million".

About two years ago, China was having the maximum number of new subscribers on a monthly basis.

"Although emerging markets with relatively low penetration continue to have above-average rates of increase in new subscribers, those numbers tend to be slowing, except in India...," Moody's said in a statement.

The agency pointed out that Indian telecom players are using "innovative means such as outsourcing network management and sharing mobile infrastructure to keep costs low in extending services to under-served rural areas".

Moody's said, mobile operators in India frequently share base stations and partner with other firms or independent cell-tower firms in expanding coverage to under-penetrated rural areas from where much of the growth is coming.

The agency said divestment of non-core assets like selling or sharing cell phone towers as a way to control costs and optimise capital expenditure had helped Indian operators in expanding coverage.

For the telecom sector in the Asia-Pacific region, Moody's has assigned a "stable outlook" and noted that this market presents attractive investment opportunities.

The agency said the revenue growth for the region would drop sharply by year-end 2009 from the double-digit growth rates of last five years.However, the full-year revenue growth for the industry this year will remain marginally positive.

Revenues from voice service and SMS are expected to fall but data revenue should continue to grow, Moody's said.

The outlook is based on expectations from telecom operators in the Asia-Pacific region across Singapore, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan and Indonesia. It did not include any Indian operator, though NTT Docomo and Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) which have partnerships in India were included.

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