Reliance Jio, the country’s largest telecom operator by market share, continued to top the wireless subscribers’ additions for the tenth straight month in January, largely on account of churn of subscribers from Vodafone Idea.
Jio added 1.66 million new wireless subscribers on a net basis in January. Peer Bharti Airtel, too, added 1.28 million subscribers, according to data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Comparatively, Vodafone Idea lost subscribers for 22 straight months now, but the silver lining is that its 4G subscriber additions in January were the highest in eight months. Overall, the telecom operator lost 1.36 million mobile subscribers, but added nearly 1.2 million 4G subscribers.
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According to analysts, Vi has largely been losing 2G subscribers and the reason can be attributed to poor quality network, weak network spends, shift from its 2G subscribers to 4G on other operators’ network and its decision to not prioritise certain circles.
With Vodafone Idea’s subscriber loss narrowing down and additions by Airtel and Jio, India’s total mobile subscriber base rose by 96,267 in January, bucking the declining trend from September to December, according to Trai data. The total mobile user base was 1.143 billion at the end of January.
The reason for the overall weak subscriber addition can largely be attributed to continued impact of SIM card consolidation owing to inflationary pressures and inactive subscribers, according to analysts. SIM card consolidation refers to reduction in mobile network connections by consumers owing to issues such as affordability of tariffs.
Further, in rural areas, the subscriber base remained flat at 515.89 million, whereas the urban subscriber base rose by 0.02% to 627.13 million.
As per the Trai data, barring Bihar, UP (West), Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, UP (East) and Himachal Pradesh, all other service areas have shown growth in their wireless subscribers during the month.
As of January end, Reliance Jio has a wireless subscribers’ market share of 37.28%, up from 37.14% in December. The company’s total wireless subscribers rose to 426.17 million. In comparison, Bharti Airtel’s market share rose to 32.27% from 32.16% in December, whereas Vodafone Idea’s share fell to 20.99% from 21.11%.
The wireless subscribers’ base of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea was at 368.89 million and 229.96 million, respectively, at the end of January. State-owned BSNL lost wireless subscribers for the 13th straight month. In January, the company lost 1.49 million wireless subscribers, its highest in 13 months. BSNL’s total subscriber base as of January end was 105.12 million.
The overall wireless broadband subscribers base, which largely includes 4G users, rose by 6.21 million in January, taking the tally to 804.90 million. Bharti Airtel added 2.78 million wireless broadband users in January, taking its subscriber base to 231.54 million. Vodafone Idea’s 4G subscribers base rose to 125.02 million.
In the wireline segment, Jio continues to take the lead. The operator added nearly 0.22 million subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel at 0.18 million. As of January end, Jio’s total wireline subscribers’ base was at 8.6 million, whereas that of Airtel was at 6.9 million.
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During the month, BSNL lost 19,781 users in the wireline segment. As of January end, the company’s total base of wireline users was at 7.08 million.
According to Trai, in January, 12.40 million subscribers submitted their requests for mobile number portability (MNP). “The cumulative MNP requests increased from 784.43 million at the end of December to 796.84 million at the end of January, since the implementation of MNP,” Trai said.
In January, the total number of active mobile users rose by 3.97 million. Of the total 1.143 billion wireless subscribers, 1.024 billion or 89.66% 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 nearly 3.49 million to 394.47 million. The company’s visitor location register rose to 92.56% from 92.1% in December.
Bharti Airtel remained at top with the highest visitor location register subscribers among the telecom players at 99.3%. The company’s active subscribers’ base rose by 1.31 million, taking its total active subscribers’ base to 366.31 million as of January end. In December, Bharti Airtel’s growth in the active subscribers base at 6 million was the highest in nearly two years.
Despite the 4G additions, the company’s total active subscribers fell for the tenth straight month in January. Vodafone Idea’s active subscriber base fell by 0.46 million to 209.13 million.