Average GSM bill fell 27% in Dec quarter: TRAI

Indian mobile operators continued to see average bill sizes shrink in the last quarter of 2010, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has revealed in its latest ‘performance report.’ Year-on-year, GSM saw higher falls than CDMA.

According to the report, the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) — a measure of how big a bill an average consumer pays per month — fell 4.4% in the December quarter for GSM subscribers, while it fell 6.4% for CDMA subscribers.

An average GSM subscriber paid Rs 360 per month during the three months ended December 2010, compared to Rs 368 per month during the three months ended September 2010. Compared to the December quarter of 2009, the fall was 27%.

For CDMA, the fall was even steeper — from Rs 73 in September quarter to Rs 68 in December 2010. However, compared to the same period a year ago, the fall was just 17%.

About half of the fall was due to decline in call rates while the other half was due to people using their connections less often.

Due to a proliferation of new operators pushing cheaper and cheaper schemes, mobile subscribers have got into the habit of buying extra ‘SIMs’ or connections to take advantage of cheaper call rates promised by new operators.

This, while increasing overall connection numbers, has brought down the number of calls made from each connection — measured in Minutes of Use per connection per month.

The average outgoing calls declined by 1.6% from 174 minutes (2 hours 54 minutes) per month in the September quarter for GSM users.

For CDMA, it fell marginally by 0.92% from 137 (2 hours 17 minutes) per month in the September quarter.