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Indian adds 19mn mobile subscribers in Dec

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CIOL Bureau
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NEW DELHI, INDIA: Mobile firms in India added a record 19.1 million subscribers in December, taking total users in the world's fastest-growing, and second-largest, wireless market to  525.15 million, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said.

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In November, the firms had added 17.65 million users. Mobile subscribers grew at a monthly average of nearly 15 million in 2009 to be 51 percent higher from 346.89 million at end-2008.

Sixth-ranked operator Tata Teleservices, 26 percent owned by Japan's NTT DoCoMo, led additions for the fifth month in a row with 3.34 million new users in December. Following are the additions by mobile operators and their total subscriber base.

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LEADING COMPANIES:

COMPANY                                                              ADDITIONS (MLN)             TOTAL USERS (MLN)

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Bharti Airtel (BRTI.BO: Quote, Profile, Research)             2.85                               118.86

Reliance Comm (RLCM.BO: Quote, Profile, Research)      2.80                                  93.80

Vodafone Essar (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research)          2.79                                  91.40

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd                                               2.08                                  62.86

Idea Cellular (IDEA.BO: Quote, Profile, Research)           1.70                                  57.61

Tata Teleservices                                                            3.34                                   57.33

Aircel                                                                               1.67                                   31.02

SMALLER PLAYERS:

COMPANY                                                                                            ADDITIONS         TOTAL USERS

(MLN)

--------------------------------------------------------------

MTNL (MTNL.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) (MTE.N: Quote, Profile, Research)    56,483         4.88

Sistema Shyam Teleservices                                                               398,403                       3.04

Loop Telecom                                                                                        54,276                       2.65

Unitech Wireless (TEL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research)                             1,208,130                  1.21

HFCL Infotel                                                                                           -887                          0.34

S Tel BTEL.BH                                                                                            141,411                 0.14

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Note: Unitech Wireless, majority owned by Norway's Telenor

(TEL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research), and S Tel started mobile operations in December.

Wireless tele-density, or mobile connections per every 100 people, was at 44.73 at the end of December, the regulator said. Fixed-line subscriber base declined to 37.06 million in

December from 37.16 million in November.

Including fixed-line phones, India had 562.21 million phones at the end of December, or a tele-density of 47.89.

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