Indian Telecom industry is the second largest in the world with 670 million customers. Indian telecom is  known for intense competition, huge subscribers addition and affordable rates.  The industry could reach this height only through the dynamism of the industry leaders, timely support and policy intervention of the Government. 2011 could be a watershed year with major changes expected in consolidation and competitive landscape.  There are 14 service providers in India broadly categorized into two groups - incumbents and new entrants.

1.  Bharti Aitel

Bharti Airtel is the largest telecom company in India. During 2009-10 it reported revenue of Rs 38,800 cr (US $  8.62 billion) and having a revenue market share of 24%. The company launched its services in 1995 in Delhi circle and added Himachal Pradesh in 1996. It acquired Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka through its acquisition of JT Mobiles in 1999. In the same year it launched its fixed line services in Madhya Pradesh Circle. In 2000 the company acquired Chennai circle of Skycell and Kolkotta circle from Spice Cell. Airtel achieved all India presence by 2005 through both organic and inorganic routes. Airtel was the pioneer in introducing managed services in India. It outsourced its IT operations to IBM and network management to Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens in 2004, which resulted in substantial cost optimization. Airtel is an integrated telecom player with presence in Broadband, NLD, ILD, IPTV, Mobile TV and internet. It expanded its operations in Srilanka, Seychelles and in African countries and Middle East. It is operational in 19 countries now.


BSNL is the second largest telecom operator in the country next to Airtel. During 2009-10, BSNL achieved revenue of Rs 30240 cr (US $6.72 billion) with a revenue market share of 19%. BSNL is a 100% owned Government Company, hived off as a separate entity in the year 2000 and operational in 20 circles other than Delhi and Mumbai.  It launched its cellular services under the brand name Cellone in 2002. BSNL’s major revenue is contributed by wire line business where it is the market leader. It has already launched 3G and IPTV services in the county.

3. Vodafone

Vodafone is the third largest telecom operator in the country with revenue of Rs 23200 cr (US $ 5.15 billion) and a market share of 14.5%. The company has grown mostly through inorganic mode.  The company has seen multiple changes in its brand name like Max Touch, Orange, Hutch and Vodafone. It took the inorganic route for its growth and acquired companies like Fascel, Usha Martin, Sterling Cellular, Aircel Digilink and BPL Mobile. The company was for a long time operating as a pure play operator and only recently it moved towards an integrated telecom operation.

4.  Reliance Communications

RCom launched its services in 2002 on the CDMA platform and under Basic service operator licence. In 2003, the company obtained Unified Access Service Licence (UASL).  The company launched its GSM services in 2008. It is operational in all 22 circles as an integrated telecom player and a dual technology player. It has its strong presence in broadband, NLD, ILD, IPTV, Mobile TV, IDC, and DTH. It acquired Flag Telecom, a submarine cable company in 2004. During 2009-10 the company achieved revenue of Rs 22130 cr (US $ 4.92 billion) and a revenue market share of 13.9%

5. Idea Cellular

Idea started its operation in Gujarat and Maharashtra circles in 1997 and it was known as Birla AT&T then. It merged with Tata Cellular in 2000 and the name changed to Birla Tata AT&T. The company started its operation under the brand name Idea in 2002. It acquired Escotel and later on Spice Mobile. The company is operational in all 22 circles. Its turnover during 2009-10 was Rs 11390 cr (US$ 2.53 billion)

6.  Tata Teleservices

Tata tele started its basic telecom operations in 1997 in Andhra Pradesh and started mobile operations in 2000. In 2009 it became dual technology operator by launching GSM operations also in alliance with NTT Docomo. Tata tele is credited with innovative schemes like life time validity and one second billing. It entered into a unique revenue sharing agreement with Virgin Mobile, which launched its services as a MVNO. The revenue of the company during 2009-10 was Rs 6900 cr (US $ 1.53 billion).  If we consider the revenue of the other group companies like Tata communication and TTML, the total revenue will be Rs 20200 cr (US $ 4.49 million)

7.  Aircel

Aircel started its operation in Tamil Nadu circle in 1999 and it acquired RPG cellular’s Chennai circle in 2003.  The company was acquired by Maxis group in 2005 from Sterling group. The company is today operational in 18 circles.  The revenue during 2009-10 was Rs 4700 cr (US $ 1.04 billion)


MTNL was set up in 1986 to provide telecom services in Mumbai and Delhi. Majority of the shares are owned by the Government and it is a publicly listed company.  The company’s revenue during 2009-10 was Rs 3650 cr  (US $ 0.81 billion). Company’s major revenue is contributed by its huge fixed line subscriber base. It is also providing IPTV, broadband and 3G services.

9.  Videocon

The company was earlier known as Datacom. Videocon launched its services in 2010. It got licence in 22 circles.

10.  MTS

It is a joint venture between Shyam Telelink and the Russian telecom operator Sistema. It launched its services under the CDMA platform in 2009. It is focusing mainly on data services under the brand name MBlaze. It got licence in 22 circles.

11.  Uninor

Uninor is a joint venture between Unitech and Norway’s Telenor. It launched its operations in 2009. It got licence in 22 circles.

12. S Tel

This company is promoted by Skycity Foundations, Mauritius based Telecom investments and Bahrain Telecommunications. It got licence for 6 circles.

13. Loop

Loop Telecom is wholly owned subsidiary of BPL Mobile now under Essar.  Its Mumbai operations started in the year 1995. It got licence in 21 circles.

14. Etisalat

Etisalat is yet to roll out its operations in India. Etisalat acquired stake in Swan Telecom in 2008 and it got licence in 13 circles.