Key Statistics: Trends in mobile telephony

Growth in wireless subscribers

  • During the past 25 years, the telecom sector’s journey has been momentous. Owing to a series of key policy and regulatory refor­ms, increased private sector participation and growing affordability of services, the telecom sector has connected over a billion lives.
  • India has 1.14 billion telecom users as of May 2023, making it the second largest telecom market in the world.
  • Mobile teledensity has risen significantly in the past 25 years. However, most of this growth has taken place in urban areas. In recent years, rural wireless teledensity has started to pick up.

Changing market share

  • Till 2003, the telecom market had five major operators offering wireless services. Between 2008 and 2013, the space became very crowded owing to the relaxation of FDI norms and increasing privatisation in the sector. As of December 2013, the market had 13 telecom operators.
  • The cancellation of 122 controversial telecom licences by the Supreme Court in 2012 and the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in 2016 deeply affected the financial health of the industry.
  • Currently, the market has a 3+1 structure with three private operators and one state-run operator, that is, the merged entity of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited.