SingTel has strengthened its position as one of the most prominent mobile operators in the Asia-Pacific region, reporting close to a 50 percent annual rise in customers across its eight regional subsidiaries. In a statement released today, the Singapore-based company said that its combined mobile customer base in the region had reached 185.34 million by the end of March, up from 123.79 million customers a year ago. India’s Bharti, in which SingTel owns a 30.5 percent stake, was the largest contributor to the growth, reporting a 67 percent rise in annual customers to 61.99 million. Customers at Indonesia’s Telkomsel – 35 percent owned by SingTel – grew by 32 percent to 51.34 million, while customers at Thailand’s AIS (21.36 percent owned by SingTel) rose 19 percent to 25.09 million. There was also strong growth for Warid Telekom of Pakistan and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd (PBTL), 30 percent and 45 percent owned by SingTel, respectively.

In its wholly-owned subsidiaries, the operator said that it had recorded a 41 percent annual rise in Singapore customers (to 2.57 million), while at Optus – its Australian subsidiary – customers rose to 7.14 million from 6.74 million a year ago. The operator is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow but it has already been an eventful week or so for the company: yesterday, it was announced that SingTel would launch the iPhone in four of its markets, while it is also reported to be heavily involved in Bharti’s rumoured bid for MTN, the African and Middle Eastern operator.