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Tata leads telecom market for 3rd straight month
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In October, India added the highest ever monthly wireless subscribers at approximately 16.7 million, an increase of 11% month-on-month (m-o-m). Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) led the mobile growth for the third month in a row, with addition of 3.9 million new users, down 3.5% from September.

Vodafone and Aircel Ltd posted their best ever monthly tally of approx 3 million and 2 million, respectively, while Bharti Airtel Ltd net adds recovered to 2.7 million compared with 2.5 million in September. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) subscriber base added the most since March while volatility in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) wireless intake continued as user growth halved from previous month.

Pricing war, which started with Tata DoCoMo’s novel per second billing, has now spilled over in to the roaming arena as Bharti cuts roaming tariffs. Consolidation is likely to rationalize competition but the timing of the same remains uncertain, especially given the lack of enabling regulations. Despite the current turmoil, we believe Bharti is the best bet, given strong cash flows and healthy return ratios, and retain it as our top pick.

TTSL grabbed the top spot in terms of new users added but the pace of additions declined 3.5% m-o-m. Vodafone Essar Ltd posted an impressive 51% m-o-m surge in subscriber growth to 3 million, its best monthly tally ever and reversing a six-month period of slower growth. Idea-Spice combine user growth jumped 36%, aided by Idea’s approx 43% rise in new user additions, its best since at least January 2008.

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