The downturn for the large operators comes even as the boom in India's mobile market continues. India added 17.65 million mobile subscribers in November, taking the total to 506 million.
Competition has however increased for the established players with the entry of new joint ventures of multinational companies. Unitech Wireless, the joint venture of Telenor with a local real-estate company, for example said it had acquired over 1.2 million new subscribers since the December launch of its service.
Large players like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, and Tata Teleservices started cutting tariffs last year to gain market share ahead of rollouts by the Indian joint ventures of Sistema, Telenor, and Etisalat.
Bharti's average revenue per user (ARPU) dropped by 29 per cent in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from a year earlier, while average minutes per user fell 12 per cent. ARPU and utilization may fall further as the company targets more rural markets, analysts said.
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