A man speaks on a mobile phone while seated in a rickshaw in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Telecom Regulator Evaluating Ways To Determine Unique Mobile Subscriber Base

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is evaluating ways to arrive at a mechanism to determine the 'unique mobile subscriber base' in the country, according to a senior official.

The latest TRAI data pegs India's total wireless subscriber base at 1,161.8 million as on March 31, while the wireless teledensity stands at 88.46. This subscriber number, however, does not give the exact picture of those connected or unconnected as it takes into account multiple subscriber identity modules and phone connections.

The official, who did not wish to be named, noted that the whole idea is to identify the number of people who are unconnected, and added that the exercise would culminate into finding ways to determine the 'unique' subscribers or those connected. Even the National Digital Communications Policy document talks of achieving 'unique mobile subscriber density' of 55 percent by 2020 and 65 percent by 2022.

"Today, the subscriber base is counted based on the number of SIMs issued, but one subscriber may have multiple SIMs. We are mulling ways to determine correctly the number of people who are actually connected or unique subscribers, and it is a complex issue," the official added.

Previously, one of the ways being considered was mapping of subscribers to Aadhaar or unique identification number, which could have made the entire approach to determining unique subscribers, less complicated. But, given the restrictions now placed on use of Aadhaar data for mobile connections, things are back to the drawing board.

"We have to find out a fresh methodology for determining unique mobile subscribers. We have started some internal brainstorming on the issue," the official said, adding that different aspects are being explored but no clarity has emerged on the way forward as the issue is complex. It may take two months for TRAI to finalise the approach on this, the official said, adding that the telecom department may also be looking at the issue.

Also read: TRAI Spectrum Prices High Due To Inconsistency In Principles, Study Shows

Bloomberg Quint

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