India's carriers sign up more than 8m mobile users in December

Indian mobile phone firms signed 8.17 million subscribers in December, taking the wireless subscriber base in the world's fastest-growing telecoms market to 233.63 million, data from the telecoms regulator, cited by a Reuters report, said.

The Reuters report said this was slightly below the 8.32 million users added in November, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in its monthly report.

Wireless subscriber numbers surged 56% in 2007 from 149.62 million at the end of 2006, the report showed.

India's mobile firms have been signing about 8 million users each month since July, lured by call rates as low as $0.01 a minute and by cheap handsets, the Reuters report said.

Still, only about a quarter of the population has a phone, and the government has a target of 500 million phones by 2010, it added.

Sector leader Bharti Airtel added 2.20 million new users in December, taking its subscribers to 55.16 million, the report said.

Second-ranked Reliance Communications added 1.57 million users, lifting its subscriber numbers to 40.96 million, and Vodafone-controlled Vodafone Essar signed up 1.30 million users to take its customer base to 39.86 million, the report further said.