India in 2006 emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing wireless telecom markets, with the number of mobile-phone service subscribers in the nation growing to 149.5 mln, up from 85 mln in 2005. And the number of new subscriber additions continues at a torrid pace. Monthly mobile subscriber additions averaged 5.5 mln in 2006, and exceeded 6 mln per month by the end of the year. iSuppli projects that the wireless service subscriber base in India will rise to 484 mln by 2011, more than three times the 149.5 mln in 2006. The growth in wireless subscribers is fueling explosive growth in demand for new phones in India. iSuppli estimates that the number of total new legal handsets sold in India in 2006 was 69.3 mln.
As the subscriber base continues to expand, iSuppli projects that India will emerge as the second-largest market in the world after China for mobile handsets in terms of unit shipments. iSuppli estimates that in 2011, approximately 11% of the global mobile device unit shipments will be to India. The Indian mobile phone market in 2006 was dominated by GSM-enabled handsets with 51.7 mln out of 68.9 mln handsets being GSM enabled. However, as handset features gain prominence, the replacement rate is expected to grow to 25% by 2011.