Telecom operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea in March added 6.2 million 4G users, the highest in 20 months, according to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
The 4G subscriber additions come on the back of the shift in the user base from 2G as well as new mobile subscriber additions, which was also the highest in 10 months, according to analysts.
Jio added 3.05 million 4G subscribers in March, which was its highest addition in the last six months, whereas Airtel added 2.04 million 4G subscribers. Vodafone Idea added 1.08 million 4G subscribers in March after witnessing its highest fall in 21 months in February. The wireless broadband subscriber base, which largely includes 4G subscribers, rose to nearly 812 million as of March-end. Of the total 6.6 million wireless broadband subscriber additions, around 0.4 million are BSNL’s 3G ones.
Meanwhile, Airtel pipped BSNL to become the second-largest fixed-line or wireline service provider in March. In the wireline segment, telephone and broadband internet services are provided through a network of cables.
The total mobile user base was 1.144 billion at the end of March, up by 1.96 million from the preceding month. According to analysts, an increase in subscriber base shows that the impact of tariff hikes and SIM card consolidation owing to inflationary pressures has waned, and telecom companies can prepare for the next leg of tariff hikes.
Jio and Airtel continued to gain at the expense of Vodafone Idea, analysts said. While Airtel and Jio added 1.04 million and 3.05 million mobile subscribers, respectively, Vodafone Idea lost over 1.2 million. The telecom operator has been losing mobile subscribers for two years now.
As of March-end, Reliance Jio has a 37.61% share of the wireless subscribers’ market, up from 37.41% in February. The company’s total wireless subscribers rose to 430.23 million. In comparison, Bharti Airtel’s market share rose to 32.42% from 32.39% in February, whereas Vodafone Idea’s share fell to 20.70% from 20.84% in February, in this segment. Airtel and Vodafone Idea 4G subscribers as of March-end were at 235.78 million and 124.82 million, respectively, according to Trai data.
State-owned BSNL lost wireless subscribers for the 15th straight month. In March, it lost 0.52 million wireless subscribers. BSNL’s total subscriber base as of March-end was 103.58 million.
As per the Trai data, barring Punjab, Kolkata, UP (West), Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and, Mumbai, all other service areas have showed growth in their wireless subscribers.
In rural areas, the overall mobile subscriber base rose by 0.79 million to 516.38 million, whereas the urban subscriber base rose by 1.18 million to 627.54 million.
In March, 11.70 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP). “With this, the cumulative MNP requests increased from 808 million at the end of February to 819.70 million at the end of March, since implementation of MNP,” Trai said.
In the wireline segment, Jio continues to take the lead. The operator added nearly 0.31 million subscribers, taking its total base to over 9.1 million.
Airtel’s wireline subscriber base at the end of March was nearly 7.15 million, whereas BSNL’s subscriber base in the segment was at 7.1 million. During the month, BSNL added 42,555 users in the wireline segment, whereas Airtel added nearly 0.15 million users.
In March, the total number of active mobile users rose by nearly 6.7 million. Of the total 1.144 billion wireless subscribers, 1.034 billion or 90.41% 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.
Reliance Jio’s active users rose by nearly 4.95 million to 402.56 million, the highest in over a year. The company’s visitor location register rose to 93.57% from 93.08% in February.
Bharti Airtel remained on top with the highest visitor location register subscribers among the telecom players at 99.63%. The company’s active subscriber base rose by 2.44 million, taking the total to 369.54 million as of March-end.
Vodafone Idea’s total active subscribers fell for the 12th straight month in March. The company’s active subscriber base fell by 0.45 million to 207.89 million.