India could have more than one billion mobile phone users by 2015, with the bulk of that growth in rural areas, one of the country's top telecom executives said Wednesday. Manoj Kohli, chief executive of India's biggest mobile phone group Bharti Airtel, told an industry conference in Hong Kong that his firm is aiming to almost double its customer base to 200 million people in the next few years. "Achieving a billion plus (Indian mobile users) by 2015 is possible," he told the Mobile Asia Congress, the region's largest telecom industry gathering.
"The largest growth will happen in the rural market," he said, adding that pricing wars between providers were knocking down rates in the Indian market and making phones affordable to more people. Competition in India has become even more aggressive as new players unleash deeper price cuts with innovative per-second billing plans that have pushed call costs down to less than a cent a minute.
"There is hyper-competition like no other place in the world," he said.
India is the world's second-biggest cellular market with more than 400 million users, lagging behind only China, which has over 600 million users.
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