<p>In sync with the national trend, the mobile users base in Punjab has slided to 22.47 million at the end of September 2012 from 22.49 million at the end of March 2012, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) data.
The decline was about 0.09 per cent during the first six months of the current financial year, which was in sharp contrast to the growth of 8.7 per cent during the corresponding period of the previous financial year. According to industry analysts, the trend could be attributed to the disconnections of phone numbers by the players.
At the end of March 2011, the total subscriber base was 19.73 million, while the same stood at 21.45 million at the end of September 2011, thus, registering a growth of 8.7 per cent. With 8 GSM players namely Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular(Spice), Reliance Telecom, Tata Docomo, Videocon, Aircel and three CDMA players namely, Reliance Communication, Tata Teleservices and HFCL Connect, the state has the highest tele-density in the country.
During the first six months of the current financial year, cellular operators like Idea (Spice) and Aircel had registered growth while BSNL, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel posted negative growth. According to the COAI data, in terms of subscriber base, BSNL is the biggest loser during the period (April-Sept 2012). It had lost 2.30 lakh subscribers during the period. BSNL, which used to be the number three player in state at the end of March 2012, after Airtel, and Idea Cellular(Spice), slipped to the number four position. With about 4.46 million subscriber base at the end of September 2012, Vodafone Essar had replaced BSNL. At the end of September 2012, Bharti Airtel was having a subscriber base of 6.89 million, Idea Cellular(5.59 million), followed by Vodafone and BSNL(4.40 million).
In addition to registering a negative growth rate in the review period, the average revenue per user (ARPU) is still a concern for the GSM service providers in Punjab.
The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is an area of concern for the GSM operators, as it is going downwards, hitting the bottomlines of the telecom players. The average ARPU of three players namely Airtel, Spice and Vodafone Essar was Rs 142.27 during the quarter Jan-March 2011, which plummeted to Rs 138.99 during the quarter April-June 2011. While during 2009 it was over Rs . 200.