Indian mobile users to touch 993 million mark by 2014: Gartner

“The arrival of new players in the Indian mobile sector has led to fierce competition, which has sustained the strong subscriber growth,” research firm Gartner said

India’s mobile subscriber base is expected to touch 993 million by 2014, led by the rural market, reports PTI.

Research firm Gartner expects the world's fastest-growing mobile market to close this year with over 660 million subscribers, it said in a statement.

"The arrival of new players in the Indian mobile sector has led to fierce competition, which has sustained the strong subscriber growth seen in 2009," Gartner senior research analyst Neha Gupta said.

With a mobile penetration of 44.5% in 2009-end, there is still ample room for growth in 2010 and beyond, she added.

India is the second-largest wireless market in the world, after China with 618 million mobile subscribers at the end of May 2010, according to telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

"Mobile market penetration is projected to increase further, mainly due to the service providers increasing their focus on the rural market and lower priced handsets," Ms Gupta said.

By the end of 2014, total mobile services revenue in India is forecast to exceed to $23 billion from $19.3 billion at the end of 2010, she said.

Moreover, Gartner expects the growth to slow down a bit in the coming years.

"Sharp fall in call charges and launch of services by new mobile operators helped the country step up mobile subscriber additions in the past one year, but increasing mobile penetration could lead to some slow down in future growth," she said.

Ms Gupta added the average revenue per user (ARPU) will go down further and data usage would go up in the next few years.

"Expect a dramatic decline in growth of voice revenue from 2010 until the end-2014, although this will be balanced by increased revenue from data services that will significantly contribute to the overall growth of mobile services in India," she said.

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Govt to consider import duty on wheat on record output

The EGoM on food, which is expected to meet next week, will decide on considering the imposition of import duty on wheat and partial lifting of the two-year ban on export of non-basmati rice

Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said that the government will, next week, consider the imposition of import duty on wheat and partial lifting of the two-year ban on export of non-basmati rice, reports PTI.

"We will review in the next empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) meet on whether or not to impose tax on wheat imports, and will discuss allowing export of some particular varieties of non-basmati rice," Mr Pawar told reporters in New Delhi.

The eGoM on food is likely to meet either on 23rd or 24th July, Mr Pawar said on the sidelines of an ICAR award ceremony.

The minister said that some states have requested the ministry to allow export of a particular variety of rice produced in Kerala as there is a high demand for the same in the Middle East.

In April 2008, the Centre had imposed a ban on non-basmati rice exports to cool down food inflation, which is currently hovering around 12.81%.

He also said that the eGoM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, would discuss increasing the allocation of foodgrains to states under the Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) and also consider reducing prices in states where lifting is poor.

Despite a record production of wheat in the 2009-10 crop year (July-June) and the presence of huge stocks in government godowns, the eGoM had earlier deferred a decision on imposing import duty of 40% on wheat due to high inflation.

India produced a record 80.98 million tonnes of wheat in 2009-10, surpassing the previous year's record of 80.68 million tonnes.

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