The Economist writes that India now leads the world in mobile-phone subscriber growth (with 6.6 million additions last month):
The boom has become the source of much national pride. It is arguably a more widely celebrated example of the New India than the high-tech offshoring industry centred on Bangalore, because poorer Indians are participating in it too. Industry bosses are quick to point out that the spread of mobile phones is bringing labourers, farmers and fishermen into the economic mainstream. An unemployed person with a phone suddenly feels part of the nation, says one top executive.
Indian firms claim they offer the cheapest mobile services in the world, with outgoing calls for as little as $0.01 a minute and second-hand phones for $15 or less. But cheap does not mean unprofitable, and the industry leaders, including Reliance Communications, Bharti’s Airtel and the telecoms arm of Tata, are believed to earn a pre-tax profit margin of around 40% before interest and depreciation.