Adding to the woes, Indian telecom industry witnessed a slump in subscriber base in April
A telecom tower [Representational Image]Reuters

The telecom industry witnessed a slump in the number of subscriptions in April, according to the telecom regulator TRAI. Surprisingly, the stoop in wireless as well as wireline subscriptions was noticed particularly in urban areas.

The total number of telephone subscribers in India decreased from 898.02 million to 897.02 million by the end of April 2013, causing a negative monthly growth of -0.11 percent. Rural subscribers have increased and now contribute to 39.29 percent to the total share, whereas the share of urban subscribers decreased.

Last year, STel and Etisalat exited from the telecom market because of the 2G spectrum scam. Due to disconnections by some network providers, the regulator noticed a slump in wireless subscriptions from 867.80 million to 867.02 million during March-April this year. And again, more subscribers from rural India went for the wireless service, while there was a dip in urban subscribers.

The country's total wireline subscribers also declined from 30.21 million to 29.99 million. But there was an increase in subscriptions by the urban population from 77.78 percent to 77.93 percent.

Despite the 2G and 3G babble, the total Broadband subscriber base increased from 15.05 million to 15.09 million over the period. The yearly growth in broadband subscribers is 8.21 percent in the last one year.

According to a financial ratings agency, Indian telecom operators are planning to invest significantly less than their Indonesian, Chinese counterparts over the next few years.

Moreover, the industry is pressured by a mounting debt of ₹1, 85,720 crore in 2011-12. The telecom commission in India has now proposed to increase the ceiling on foreign direct investment to 100 percent.