Even as Bharti Airtel and state-run BSNL managed to counter Reliance Jio by adding subscribers during July, the story for the country’s second and third largest telecom operators — Vodafone India and Idea Cellular — was the opposite, with both losing subscribers during the month, a first for them in over a year. While Vodafone lost 1.4 million subscribers in July, the drop for Idea was much steeper at 2.32 million during the month, the latest data from Trai showed. For Vodafone, July was the first month when the operator lost subscribers since January 2016. In fact, on an average during the April-June 2017 period, it had added almost a million subscribers every month. Its subscriber market share came down from 17.86% during June 2017 to 17.74% in July.
Idea’s performance was much worse. It lost 2.32 million subscribers during July, the highest by any operator for the month. Besides, the last time Idea had reported negative subscriber additions, or simply put lost customers, was during April 2016, when it lost around 0.4 million subscribers. During April-June 2017, on an average the company added around 0.9 million subscribers on a monthly basis. Idea’s market share too took a beating. It went down from 16.54% in June to 16.34% during July.
Market analysts attributed Jio as the main reason for the decline in subscribers for both the telecom operators. They say that Jio has largely been eating into the share of smaller operators, but July’s data indicates that now it is also eating into that of Vodafone and Idea. Both the companies are in the process of merging their operations.
On the other hand, the country’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, added 0.6 million subscribers during July. However, this is much lower compared with its average addition of more than 2 million per month during the April-June period this calendar year. The company increased its market share from 23.65% during June 2017 to 23.70% in July.
Similarly, BSNL also managed to add around 0.4 million subscribers and was the only operator, barring Jio and Bharti, to add subscribers during July. The public sector undertaking’s market share rose from 8.78% in June this year to 8.81% during July.
BSNL’s subscriber market share grew from 8.67% in April to 8.74% in May and 8.78% in June. New entrant Reliance Jio added 5.23 million subscribers in July, taking its total count to 128.58 million. It is also India’s largest mobile broadband services provider for the month. Overall, Bharti led the tally with 281.25 million subscribers followed by Vodafone at 210.55 million and Idea at 193.96 million.