Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio is inching closer to overtaking Bharti Airtel as India’s second largest telecom operator, and is just a short distance away from moving up the pecking order in the country’s telecom industry. Reliance Jio is yet to overtake Bharti Airtel, which is the second largest telecom company in India by user base, according to TRAI’s latest data.
Reliance Jio had over 29 crore subscribers at the end of February 2019, whereas Bharti Airtel had over 34 crore users at the time, TRAI’s Telecom Subscription Data report for February 2019 showed. However, the tables might turn soon, as Reliance Jio has been rapidly adding to its user base since the beginning of 2018, whereas other companies, including Bharti Airtel, have not kept pace. Bharti Airtel added just about 1.26 lakh overall telephone subscribers between December and February, while Reliance Jio gained 1.71 crore users in the same period.
Weeding out non-paying customers
Meanwhile, Reliance Jio also released its quarterly results for January-March 2019, which said that its user base has ballooned to 30.7 crore at the end of March 2019. Bharti Airtel is due to release its March quarter results and its March-end user base figure, on 6 May 2019. TRAI figures for March are also not out yet. Bharti Airtel’s last reported user base at the end of December is not comparable to Reliance Jio’s March-end subscriber figures.
Bharti Airtel reported its India mobile subscriber base at 28.4 crore users at December-end, which is lower than the figure reported by TRAI. This is because during the Oct-Dec 2018 quarter, Airtel weeded out about 5 crore non-revenue generating subscribers, which is yet to be accounted for in the TRAI data. “We have modified our customer base measurement to represent only transacting and revenue generating customers,” Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal had said in the quarterly results press release.
Active users: VLR metric
While Bharti Airtel leads in terms of active subscribers with over 96% VLR subscribers, Jio’s VLR is a little over 84%, according to TRAI data for February 2019. VLR is a metric used to count the number of active wireless subscribers. The same report also shows market share of major telecom operators. While Vodafone leads with 34.58% share, Bharti Airtel’s share is 28.75%. Trailing behind is Reliance Jio with 25.11% of market share as on 28 February 2019.