India’s total mobile subscriber base fell by 1.8 million in October, continuing its decline for the second straight month, according to data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The total mobile user base was at 1.143 billion at the end of October end, compared to 1.145 billion in September.
Last month, the total mobile subscriber base fell for the first time in six months. The reason for the fall in subscriber base can largely be attributed to the SIM card consolidation owing to inflationary pressures, according to analysts. SIM card consolidation refers to reduction in mobile network connections by consumers owing to issues such as affordability of tariffs. As per the Trai data, barring Mumbai, Assam, Delhi, Odisha, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, and Karnataka, all other service areas have showed decline in their wireless subscribers during the month.
Further, the churn in subscribers was led by users in urban areas, which fell to 649.99 million in October from 651.61 million in September. However, the rural subscriber base rose to 520.46 million from 520.30 million in September.
The fall in total subscriber base was largely contributed by Vodafone Idea, which lost 3.51 million subscribers during the month. In September, the beleaguered telecom operator had lost 4 million, which was its highest subscribers’ loss in 15 months. The company has been losing subscribers for 19 months now.
Comparatively, India’s largest telecom operator by market share Reliance Jio has topped the wireless subscribers’ additions for the seventh straight month. In October, the telecom operator added 1.41 million new wireless subscribers on a net basis, compared to 0.81 million new users added by peer Bharti Airtel, Trai data showed.
Compared to last month, the growth in wireless users both for Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio has improved in October, and the reason for that can be attributed to weakening position of Vodafone Idea.
As of October end, Reliance Jio has a wireless subscribers’ market share of 36.85%, up from 36.66% in September. The company’s total wireless subscribers rose to 421.38 million. In comparison, Bharti Airtel’s market share rose to 31.92% from 31.80% in September, whereas Vodafone Idea’s fell to 21.48% from 21.75% in September, in the wireless subscribers segment.
The wireless subscribers’ base of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea was at 365.02 million and 245.62 million, respectively at the end of October. Bharti Airtel added the subscribers for the 12th straight month. State-owned BSNL lost wireless subscribers for the tenth straight month. In October, the company lost 0.59 million wireless subscribers, taking its total base to 108.68 million.
In the wireline segment, Jio continues to take the lead. The operator added 0.25 million subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel at 0.11 million. As of October end, Jio’s total wireline subscribers’ base was at 7.89 million, whereas that of Airtel was at 6.51 million.
BSNL continues to lose the subscribers in the wireline segment. In October, the company lost 5,895 subscribers, taking its total base to 7.09 million.
According to Trai, in the month of October, 11.81 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP).
“The cumulative MNP requests increased from 748.11 million at the end of September-22 to 759.92 million at the end of October-22, since the implementation of MNP,” the regulator said.
The total number of active mobile users in India rose by 2.86 million in October, which is the maximum increase in five months. Of the total 1.143 billion wireless subscribers, 1.016 billion or 88.91% were active, according to the peak visitor location register, which shows the number of active subscribers, including those roaming on a mobile operator’s network.
During the month, Reliance Jio’s active users rose by 4.9 million to 391 million, the maximum in eight months. The company’s visitor location register rose to 92.79% from 91.93% in September.
While Bharti Airtel remained at top with the highest visitor location register subscribers among the telecom players at 98.08%, the company’s active subscribers’ base fell for the first time in three months. In October, the number of active subscribers of the company fell by 0.96 million, taking its total active subscribers’ base to of 358.02 million as of October end.
Vodafone Idea’s active subscribers fell for the seventh straight month in October. The company’s active subscriber base fell by 0.46 million to 211.73 million in October.
The wireless broadband subscribers in the country rose by 5.11 million in October, taking the tally to 789.10 million. The wireless broadband users largely include those on the 4G network. Bharti Airtel added 3.03 million wireless broadband users in October, which is its highest in 14 months. As of October end, the company’s total number of wireless broadband users was at 222.85 million. Vodafone Idea added 0.16 million wireless broadband users in October, taking its subscribers base to 123.36 million.