DHAKA (Reuters) - Banglades-h's six mobile phone companies added a record 16.215 million subscribers in 2010, telecoms watchdog officials said, a 31 percent annual rise that makes it one of the region's fastest growing telecoms markets. Bangladesh's mobile sector has grown rapidly in recent years, helped by steady economic growth and a price war among fiercely competing operators. Competition intensified in 2010 after India's leading telecoms firm, Bharti Airtel, bought 70 percent of Abu Dhabi Group's Warid, Bangladesh's fourth-biggest operator. Industry watchers said providers came up with lucrative packages, putting pressure on profit margins and revenues, as they battled for customers. The mobile sector is expected to grow from 68.645 million users at the end of 2010 to 120 million over the next five years, telecoms analysts have said. Airtel Bangladesh, which was launched last month to rename the Warid, attracted just below 1 million new users to reach 3.956 million in 2010. By comparison, top operator Grameenphone, majority-owned by Norway's Telenor, raised its subscriber base by 29 percent, or 6.71 million, to 29.97 million. Banglalink, owned by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, signed up 5.457 million new users, boosting its total to 19.327 million and upholding its second position in the growing market. Third-ranked Robi, majority-owned by Malaysia's Axiata, added more than 3 million to take its total to 12.368 million. CityCell, a joint venture between Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited and Singapore Telecommunications, lost subscribers to end 2010 at 1.81 million users versus 1.95 million in 2009. And state-owned Teletalk ended the year with 1.21 million users. The 2010 figure for overall growth in subscribers compares with 7.79 million subscribers in 2009, 10.27 million in 2008, 13.17 million in 2007 and 10.76 million in 2006, said officials at the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Growth was slow in 2009 because of a higher SIM (subscriber identity module) tax. Mobile phone services have emerged as an important contributor to the cash-strapped nation's economy. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly 38 percent of its more than 150 million people still living on less than $1 a day. The country has just over 1 million fixed-line phones.