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Kolkata concern for GSM operators

Last updated on: December 9, 2012 10:04 IST

Kolkata concern for GSM operators

Kolkata has emerged as one of the key concerns for the telecom companies providing GSM services.

GSM subscriber base in Kolkata telecom circle has dropped the highest by 2.28 per cent in October, bringing down the overall GSM customer base in all metro circles by 0.11 per cent, according to statistics provided by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Kolkata is the only metro circle where GSM subscriber base has declined. At the end of October, number of GSM users stood at 1.53 crore, a drop of 3.5 lakh from 1.57 crore in the previous month.

In all metro circles cumulative, GSM subscriber based declined by 86,874 to 7.70 crore.

October came as a surprise month as GSM telcos have gained overall subscriber base after key players like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had lost subscribers during the consecutive two previous months for the first time in a decade.

In October, GSM telcos have added 238,521 new subscribers pan-India, taking the total subscriber base to 671.91 million.Among the operators, Uninor was most hit in Kolkata with a loss of 2.1 lakh customers in Kolkata.

The company is set to withdraw services in the circle as its current licence will lose validity on January 18, 2013. It has not applied for spectrum for Kolkata circle in the recently concluded auction of 1,800 MHz spectrum.

Idea Cellular lost 60,852 subscribers in Kolkata during October, while Vodafone witnessed a drop of 52,576 subscribers during the month. Bharti Airtel lost 30,322 customers and Aircel Cellular closed the month with a loss of just 3,534 subscribers.

After Kolkata, GSM telcos have suffered the most in Assam with a drop of 1.19 per cent in subscriber base, followed by West Bengal with a drop of 0.97 per cent and Uttar Pradesh - West with a 0.61 per cent decline.

Other circles where GSM subscriber base dropped include Tamil Nadu (0.59 per cent), Uttar Pradesh – East (0.41 per cent), Haryana (0.34 per cent), Bihar (0.16 per cent) in October. 

Overall, GSM subscriber base increased by 0.20 per cent in all 'A' circles inclusive and 'C' circles by 0.13 per cent, but subscriber base in all 'B' circles inclusive has dropped by 0.10 per cent during the month.With Uninor pulling out of Kolkata and West Bengal telecom circles, there are about 5.6 million mobile users having are up for grabs.

Uninor, which has been operating in both Kolkata and West Bengal telecom circles since December 2009, will lose the validity of its licences in Kolkata, West Bengal and Mumbai telecom circles on January 18, 2013.

In February, the Supreme Court had cancelled 122 telecom licences, including Uninor's pan-India licences, issued in 2008 by the then telecom minister A Raja.Norway's Telenor backed Uninor, which has secured spectrum for six telecom circles.

Photographs: Reuters.