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India is the New China in Mobile Telephony!

India’s mobile telephony market is indeed very big – given that even a guys living on the street can afford a phone now. I think the very feature of free incoming calls has made the Indian market so big! I mean everybody wants to be connected and if owning a phone is not expensive and one’s friends/customers can call in.. then why not? Same goes for the kids and teenagers.. they find it very convenient too! So, in my view, when the history of the Indian mobile market is written – the point when free incoming calls were introduced will count as the watershed event!

The mobile telecom industry turned its focus on India at this year’s 3GSM trade fair -and away from China after years of talking about little else but China’s huge market and potential third generation licenses.

Vodafone’s $11 billion deal to buy a controlling stake in India’s fourth-biggest mobile phone firm, Hutchison Essar, announced on the eve of fair, set the agenda as those participants who had not already done so woke up to India’s potential.

With 150 million subscribers but market penetration of still only 15 percent, India is already the world’s fourth-biggest mobile market behind China, the United States and Russia.

It is also the fastest-growing major market and is expected to overtake Russia this year. At its current growth rate, there will be half a billion mobile subscribers in India by 2010.

Mobile group Orange was one of Vodafone’s rivals that looked on with some envy at 3GSM in Barcelona this week, with Chief Executive Sanjiv Ahuja saying he could follow Vodafone’s lead.

"India is a fast-growing market, and if a right opportunity emerges at the right kind of valuation, we would look at it," he told Reuters in an interview.

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Desh Kapoor

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