Indian Telecom Growth Story: From 10M to 900M Subscribers In 10Yrs


[Updated: August 2014]

We had written this article in 2007 and it was high time we updated it with recent numbers for benefit of our readers. Even today in 2014, India’s telecommunication is the fastest growing telecom market in world, only behind China. As per July 2014 TRAI report, India has close to 920 million total mobile subscribers. Just 6 years back that number was 250 million, whereas 10 years back in 2004 the same number was 48.3 million. That is a as huge a jump as it could.

With growth in numbers, our Telecom Industry has also evolved. We now have 4G too. Mobile internet speeds are increasing, and more and more people are now coming on the Internet thanks to growth in Smartphones.

We present to you the chart that shows this growth from 3.1 million mobile users to 920 million in 2014. Be amazed..

Indian mobile subscriber growth 2000-2014
Indian mobile subscriber growth 2000-2014

You can see that since 2012, the growth seems to have been stagnated, but the real reason is that TRAI has taken steps to weed out inactive numbers from the system. Many mobile operators lost significant amount of numbers. So while new subscribers were being added, nearly equal numbers went out of the system and hence the stagnation. Earlier the active subscriber ratio was nearly 60% which has now reached to nearly 85 percent.


Previously (written in 2007)

Yes, that’s true. Indian telecommunication Industry is one of the fastest growing telecom market in the world. The mobile sector has grown from around 10 million subscribers in 2002 to reach 150 million by early 2007 registering an average growth of over 90% yoy. The two major reasons that have fuelled this growth are low tariffs coupled with falling handset prices.

Surprisingly, CDMA market has increased it market share upto 30% thanks to Reliance Communication. However, across the globe, CDMA has been loosing out numbers to popular GSM technology, contrary to the scenario in India.

The other reason that has tremendously helped the telecom Industry is the regulatory changes and reforms that have been pushed for last 10 years by successive Indian governments. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the rate of market expansion would increase with further regulatory and structural reforms.

Even though the fixed line market share has been dropping consistently, the overall (fixed and mobile) subscribers has risen to more than 200 million by first quarter of 2007. The telecom reforms have allowed the foreign telecommunication companies to enter Indian market which has still got huge potential. International telecom companies like Vodafone have made entry into Indian market in a big way.

Currently the Indian Telecommunication market is valued at around $100 billion (Rupees 400,000 crore). Two telecom players dominate this market – Bharti Airtel with 27% market share and Reliance Communication with 20% along with other players like BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and AT&T.

One segment of the market that has been puzzling is broadband Internet. Despite the manner in which the countrys Internet market has been booming, India’s move into high-speed broadband Internet access has been distinctly slow. And, while there appears to be considerable enthusiasm amongst the population for the Internet itself, this has not been reflected in broadband subscription numbers. In 2006 India witnessed a good surge in broadband users with the total subscriber base in the country expanding by almost 200% to just over 2 million by years end. Despite this surge, broadband penetration in India still remains around only 0.2%; broadband services still account for only 25% of the total Internet subscriber base, still in itself comparatively low.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is has very aggressive plans to increase the pace of growth, targeting 250 million telephone subscribers by end-2007 and 500 million by 2010. Most of the expansion in subscribers is set to occur in rural India. India’s rural telephone density has been languishing at around 1.9%;

So, if 70% of total population is rural, the scope for growth in this Industry is unprecedented.

GSM and CDMA subscription numbers:


GSM Subscribers (millions)

GSM Annual growth

CDMA Subscribers (millions)

CDMA Annual growth




































  1. Ben Ong says

    Shocking Dance live on TV.

  2. Ben Ong says

    Shocking Dance live on TV.

  3. Raju S Ram says

    india is growing.

  4. areapal says

    excellent article. This article clearly shows that how india grown in telecommunication industry.

  5. M.A.Ravinder says

    Its an excellent forum to share comments and views of various individuals who are actually a part of the industry also and those who are inquisitive also.
    Its wonderful!
    Thanks n regards to all!

  6. manash says

    this is a great article & it would motivate a fresher who is thinking forward to take the telecommunication sector as a carrier option. yaaa it is not possible to feed up every information in an article but if you can provide me with some information about scope in this indusrty for a B.E fresher it would have helped me a lot.


  7. shiv prasad banerjee says

    well, it is rightly said that over these years indian telecom industry has built a very sound customer base,we know that CDMA market is increing day by day,and because of low tarrifs and falling handset prices this industry is soaring high, it’s very good.

  8. Maria says

    can anybody tell m abt Future of Indian telecom industry and predictions or some good sources??? thanks!!!

  9. ajit kumar sharma says

    i am ajit kumar sharma iwant to thankes to all commmunication invanser
    our life become very essy with telecom,mobile and telecom secter.we are
    groth day by i am very glead
    very very thank you (my english is very week)

  10. vishwadeep says

    hi ,
    it was a nice one to read.
    it helped me a lot in putting a step forward towards my carrier in telecom
    thanx for all this

  11. maya says

    its true that telecom companies are making amazing growth.i am now doing a project for Bharti Airtel ,the result of the study is amazing because Airtel has got 27.47 market share it is more than the market share in this article .it shows that every moment telecom industry is growing.


  12. Naveen,Ritu says

    Hi We are really thank full to you that you publish this artical and it realy help us to complete our project


  13. SD says

    The article really informative.What r the other growing markets in the globe.Please share some information with us.

  14. vaibhav says

    ye really it’s great……

  15. pallab roy says

    hi suitable information. continue this

  16. srish says

    hey hi dere i must say d article was gr8 u’ve put in a lot of hardwork..
    cud u just tell me d trends of telecom industry n from where did it start…. d early players of this industry…. n all sorts of information i’ve to present a presentation on this particular topic…. it wud b gr8 if u cud help me in ne ways……

  17. vivek says

    hi trakin,
    its a nice article…i am doing a research on indian telecom sector along the lines of competitive strategies…in the service providers case…can you guide me in getting good usefull data for my research…looking forward

  18. algae says

    hi trakin,
    great article. can u tell the marleting trends in telecom in india.

  19. Mohd Nadeem says

    Hello Friend
    Can you please give me some data or source from where I can get the data regarding Indian telecom Industry in 1995, what fuelled its growth and what motivated the private players to enter the telecom market.
    Any projections of revenue or service industry in 1995

  20. asif pazheri says

    i was used the information on site for my project

  21. manish says


    i read ur article with great interest. I wa just wondering what is the source for the growth figures.


  22. trakin says

    Hello Manish…These figures are from couple of sources including a report published by Indian Government on Telecom sector in India. The latest figures as of May 2007 you can find them here. According to it, by last month end India had reached a total subscriber base of 174 Million. Market Share information could be found here.

  23. Mesmerized says

    Great post very insightful. The Mobile online market may look at lack of GPRS as a hindrance but there is a huge market there. Besides i read on this site itself that 60% of India’s population is hovering around 20 (correct me if i am wrong). Yes there probably will be a struggle to for the elder generation to adapt to the increasing changes in this sector though i personally think they are doing a fairly good job at adapting to all the new jazz around the telecomm world.

  24. Shubham says

    Definitely the scope of Telecommunication industry in India is huge, the scope of broadband is quite low because for now the average Indian knows what a phone is, he knows how to operate it but not internet.

    Most people of one generation above us know how to call and receive calls but not sms and other features of the phones. They will get mobile connections but not internet connections. But with things moving online like airlines ticketing, railways tickets and other such things, this trend just might change.

  25. indya says

    Linking this story on

    Vote for this story On BestOfIndya

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