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Usage, revenue per subscriber show decline
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According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) figures on the performance of the Indian telecom sector between October-December 2008 and July-September 2009, the minutes of usage (MoU) per subscriber is declining.

For GSM subscribers, the MoU per subscriber in October-December 2008 was 496 minutes and in January-March 2009, it was 484 minutes - a drop of 12 minutes per subscriber. Similarly, in the following quarter of April-June 2009, the MoU per subscriber was 454 minutes as compared to 423 minutes in July-September 2009, again falling by 31 minutes per subscriber.In all, usage has crashed by 73 minutes per subscriber within 12 months.

Likewise, for the CDMA industry, the MoU per subscriber was 370 minutes in October-December 2008 and 352 minutes in January-March 2009, showing a drop of 18 minutes per subscriber. Again, in April-June 2009, the MoU per subscriber was 342 minutes, 34 minutes per subscriber more than in the subsequent quarter of July-September 2009.Thus, the drop in four quarters is 62 minutes per subscriber.

The declining trend in minutes of usage is surprising considering the enormous reduction in tariffs and launch of attractive talktime plans by operators.

To get an industry perspective on this, Telecom Yatra spoke to Mahesh Uppal, director of telecom consultancy Com First India, who said, "As far as the price of calls is concerned, it stopped being a deterrent for usage from over a year now. Users are moving to new connections and changing operators. Actually there are two things - entry of marginal users into the market and aggressiveness of operators in selling more SIM cards. Users are buying multiple SIM cards but it does not mean they will call more."

TRAI's figures also reveal that average revenue per user (ARPU) too has been falling steadily for both GSM and CDMA operators. For GSM players, the ARPU stood at Rs 220 in October-December 2008, Rs 205 in January-March 2009, Rs 185 in April-Jun 2009 and Rs 164 in the July-September 2009. Similarly, for CDMA operators, the ARPU was Rs 111, Rs 99, Rs 92 and Rs 89 in these quarters respectively.

The gross revenue of India's telecom sector was about Rs 39,400 crore in October-December 2008 and it went up to around Rs 40,400 crore in the next quarter of January-March 2009, adding about Rs 1,036 crore. However, in the following quarter of April-June 2009, the gross revenue fell by Rs 1,330 crore and it stood at about Rs 39,000 crore. Gross revenue again registered a negative growth in the July-September 2009 quarter, where it stood at about Rs 38,800 crore, a drop by Rs 253 crore. In percentage terms it means that gross revenues fell by 3.3 per cent in April-June 2009 and by 0.65 per cent in the July-September 2009 quarter, over previous quarters.
afaqs!

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