The wireless subscriber base in the country declined by 1.85% in March — after nearly a year of sustained growth — primarily because of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which together lost over 29 million customers during the month as a result of implementation of minimum recharge plans. The wireless subscriber base declined to 1,161.81 million at the end of March from 1,183.68 million at the end of February. The wireless subscriber base had last declined in April last year when there was a net deduction of 58.34 million subscribers from the telecom industry.
Reliance Jio is the only operator which has added 9.48 million subscribers in March, whereas all other operators, including state-run BSNL which has been consistently adding subscribers recently, have reported a net loss of users. Bharti Airtel saw its base decrease by 15.13 million during the reported period, followed by Vodafone Idea, which reported a loss of 14.53 million subscribers. BSNL’s reported a loss of 560,593 subscribers whereas Tata Teleservices saw a decline of 1.15 million users.
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However, despite the loss of subscribers, Bharti Airtel improved its broadband subscriber base. Airtel added 2.47 million wireless broadband subscribers whereas Vodafone Idea reported a marginal loss of broadband customers. Wireless broadband subscriber base of Airtel increased to 112.26 million at the end of March whereas that of Vodafone Idea stood at 110.23 million. As a result of declining subscriber base, the country’s overall teledensity declined to 90.11% from 91.86% last month.