All four metros in India – Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai have crossed 100 per cent mobile teledensity, according to latest figures from Department of Telecom.
Chennai leads with 143% penetration, followed by Delhi at 138%, Mumbai at 112% and Kolkata at 102.4%. A 143% penetration means the city has 1.43 mobile connections per person. It also means the number of mobile connections has exceeded the population of the respective metros.
In October 2008, Delhi had joined the over 100% mobile penetration league of world-class cities like London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Now, Chennai has overtaken Delhi.
The telecom penetration figures would be much higher, if landline connections are also taken into account.
The four metros jointly account for only a fifty of the 450 million mobile users in India and are considered the most lucrative markets. One third of all operators' revenues come from these four metros, according to an industry estimate. This, at a time when Norway's Telenor (Unitech Wireless) is set to enter the Indian market.
Bharti Airtel, India's largest operator, by both revenues and subscribers, is of the view that the growth in metros will continue for the nexty 3 to 4 years. People are now having multiple SIMs and this figure is likely to increase as new applications come in. For instance, data cards are increasingly being used for internet and other applications. As 3G services come in, customers are likely to use SIMs exclusively for high-end services, says a Bharti Airtel official.
The official says his company is steadily moving away from being a purely telecom player to a lifestyle company offering new services like banking, mobile commerce, money transfers, TV and high-speed internet on mobiles. The metros are large markets which are yet to be tapped, the official said.
The DOT figures reveal that Bharti Airtel is the leading operator in Delhi, Aircel in Chennai, while Vodafone Essar and Reliance jointly hold top spots in both Mumbai and Kolkata.
The overall teledensity in India is at 42 per cent as of August-level, says the Trai data.