Telecom ministry: Wrong claims, bad maths

| Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 17:43
First Published |

Telecom ministry: Wrong claims, bad maths

New Delhi : At the end of a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, the telecommunications ministry sent out a series of tweets , putting forward its achievements. Here are three problems we found with the claims.
We emailed our findings to the ministry last week, requesting comment. There was no response.
1. Tele-density: 4.2 percent growth fastest ever. Compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of national tele-density for four-year period between 2008 and 2012 is 31.6 percent.
Claim: National tele-density increased fastest (4.3 percent) over 11 months to reach 79.9 percent. Subscriber base in rural areas rose 4.5 percent over the past 11 months to reach 48.9 percent.
Check revealed: Between 2008 and 2012, overall tele-density increased from 26.2 percent to 78.7 percent. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for this four-year period is 31.6 percent, according to tele-density data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The average year-on-year increase in percentage-points terms, for the same duration 2008-2013, is 13 percent. Therefore, terming a 4.2 percent increase during 2014-15 (or a CAGR of 5.6 percent) as "fastest" is factually incorrect.
Similarly, rural tele-density grew at a year-on-year rate of around 7.5 percent between 2008 and 2012 in average percentage-points terms. The CAGR of rural tele-density for the four years is 42.7 percent. During 2014-15, rural tele-density grew in percentage-points terms by 4.4 percent (or a CAGR of 10 percent).
2. "Unprecedented" growth in broadband subscribers: Yes, but by private companies
Claim: An "unprecedented" 52 percent growth in broadband subscribers in 10 months.
Check revealed: The increase in broadband subscribers between 2014 and 2015 is around 63 percent (and not 52 percent). The increase is primarily driven by more than 80 percent growth in wireless broadband. The increase in wireline broadband subscribers is 4.4 percent.
The wireline broadband subscription of state-owned BSNL declined during 2014-15 whereas MTNL added only 10,000 broadband connections during the same time period.
Wireless broadband subscription increased during 2014-15 primarily because of more than 90 percent growth in the subscription base of private players like Bharti, Idea and Vodafone put together. State-owned BSNL registered around 30 percent growth in wireless broadband.
3. Increase in subscribers of both BSNL & MTNL: No, subscribers declined
Claim: BSNL and MTNL added 4.7 million and 0.2 million subscribers respectively during 2014-15.
Check revealed: In both landline and wireless categories, BSNL's subscription base declined by more than two million and 17 million during 2014-15, according to TRAI data.
During the same period, MTNL registered a moderate increase of subscription base; around 0.02 million in landline and 0.14 million in wireless category. The claim is factually incorrect.
(In arrangement with, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Fact Checker is a part of IndiaSpend. Manoj K can be contacted at

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