Despite the sharp 20.7 million fall in telecom subscriber base last month, the first time since the mobile revolution in 1997, the industry is expected to touch 1,042 million users by the fiscal-end, CMIE has said.

“The total subscriber base is expected to reach 1,042 million by March 2013,” economic research agency Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said in its monthly report.

The telecom subscriber base fell to 944.81 million in August from 965.52 million in August, according to TRAI data.

Market leader Bharti lost a net 1.9 million customers in August, Vodafone 1.56 million and Idea Cellular lost 1.65 million. These control 67 per cent of the mobile market.

“Most of the loss was due to the disconnection of unused numbers,” industry body COAI said.

RCom, which is yet to report its August numbers, had lost a whopping 20.5 million customers in July. Tata Teleservices, which has also not reported its August numbers, had lost over 2.4 million wireless customers in the month. Uninor lost over 1 million, Videocon 0.41 million, Loop and state-run MTNL each lost around 0.15 million in July.

However, the new wireless subscribers for the fiscal are likely to decline by nearly 14 per cent, CMIE said.

“Wireless service providers are expected to add 92.7 million new subscribers this fiscal, significantly lower than the 107.6 million they added in FY12,” the agency said.

It observed the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP) scheme as one of the reasons for declining new subscriber additions.

“The total MNP requests at the end of June 2012 stood at 54.3 million. We expect the number of subscribers opting for MNP to rise further in the coming months. This in turn would impact new subscriber additions,” it said, adding that new additions are more likely in the hinterlands.

“While the urban areas of the country are over penetrated with tele-density of 169 per cent, in rural areas it is just 40.6 per cent. Hence, these areas hold an opportunity for telecom operators to increase their subscriber base and grow their market share,” it said.

For the fixed-line service providers, the agency said they would continue to witness an exodus of subscribers. “They are expected to lose close to 2 million subscribers,” it said.

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