September 10 2012: Is this the end of the good times for world’s fastest growing mobile phone geography’?
For the first time since IndiaTechOnline launched its popular Snapshot feature four years ago, monitoring the week by week numbers of the Indian IT sector, we added zero number of mobile phones when we updated on September 4, because our across the industry algorithm told us there was no growth. In fact for some two months now, we have noticed net monthly additions fall below the million mark.
Now, numbers released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority ( which take two months to compile) confirm the news: the monthly growth went negative in July for the first time ever – and total mobile phone users declined by some 20 million.
The government’s official body attributes this to “large scale disconnections by some of the service providers” -- periodic weeding out of numbers not in use. But that is only part of the story.
International players like Etisalat and Uninor have been put out of business when their Indian operations lost the licence to operate after the Indian Supreme Court's order. They have cancelled hundreds of thousands of connections.
Finally it seems, India is paying the price for the scandals that have engulfed the mobile phone business in India and the often bizarre policies that followed as knee jerk reactions to the unprecedented sleaze that was unearthed in the allocation of telecom spectrum.
That and the delay in decision making has tarnished the worlds’s most spectacular story of empowerment through technology, of an entire people. But whether the fall in numbers is a temporary phenomenon or a lengthier malaise remains to be seen.
TRAI release: http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReadData/WhatsNew/Documents/PR179-07sep12.pdf