ibnlive » India

Feb 08, 2009 at 05:17pm IST

Cell phone boom in J-K despite recession

Jammu: A battle of a different kind is hotting up in Jammu and Kashmir. Reliance Communications has now launched their GSM and CDMA cellular services in 50 towns and 5,000 villages, closely following Tata Indicom which started operations last month.

The private operators are making grounds in a state where mobiles services did not exist till five years back.

“There is a lot of potential in the market. It is the last frontier so a lot of operators are interested,” Regional Hub Head, Reliance, Arvind Kumar said.

The subscriber base in J&K is around 28 lakhs. Of this Airtel has 14 lakh customers,

BSNL with eight lakh and Aircel has six lakh customers. But this covers just 26 percent of the total population.

The rest of the market is open for new operators at an expected annual growth rate of 40 per cent.

Mobile services in J&K work under a lot of restrictions because of fear of misuse by militant organisations.

“We know the security concerns here but we are taking care to ensure all measures are taken,” Kumar said.

However, despite such fears the market is inviting.

Manas Sharma, a radio jockey, said, “All we want is free connection.”

While another resident of Jammu Pankaj Sasa said, “We expect that they will provide us good and cheaper services.”

Mobile services in Jammu and Kashmir have always been caught in controversies but with six operators here, it seems there is no deterrent for the cellular market now.