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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 08:12 GMT
Mobile phones take over in India
Girls using mobile phones
1.4 million Indians signed up for mobiles last month
Indian mobile phone users have outnumbered fixed-line customers for the first time, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The number of mobile phone subscribers grew by 1.4 million to 44.9 million last month, overtaking the 43.9 million registered land line users, TRAI said.

The surge in mobile users reflects highly competitive tariffs offered by Indian operators.

Some Indian mobile companies offer call rates as low as two US cents a minute.

"This unprecedented growth has been due to the fact that the mobile tariffs in India are the lowest (in the world)," TRAI said in a statement.

The latest figures bear out TRAI's prediction in May that mobile phone users would outnumber fixed-line subscribers by the end of the year.

Mobile services have expanded dramatically in many developing economies, with consumers by-passing slow state-run fixed-line operators to sign up for cheaper cellular services instead.

However, fewer than five in 100 people own a mobile handset in India, compared with penetration rates of well over 50% in most European countries.

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