Telecom operators lost more than 15 million subscribers on a net basis during January 2018 as numbers of Reliance Communications (RCom) and small operators fell by a whopping 28.1 million during the month.
Telecom operators lost more than 15 million subscribers on a net basis during January 2018 as numbers of Reliance Communications (RCom) and small operators fell by a whopping 28.1 million during the month. This is also the second highest loss incurred by the sector in terms of subscriber numbers since January 2017. According to the latest data by Trai, the industry’s net subscriber loss stood at 15.5 million. Before this the highest loss was recorded in November 2017, when the industry lost 15.7 million subscribers. The decline was driven by loss in subscriber numbers of RCom and small operators. RCoM led the tally with a loss of 21.1 million subscribers followed by Aircel (-3.5 million), Tata Teleservices (-1.9 million) and Telenor (-1.6 million). Analysts attribute this to RCom and small operators who are either shutting down or are in process of merging operations with larger ones.
Aircel has surrendered its licence in six circles and is discontinuing operations from January 30, its subscribers in these areas are porting to others. Telenor and Tata Teleservices, on the other hand, are in the process of merging operations with Bharti so their subscribers will be porting to Bharti mostly. RCom too has shut operations and is in the process of selling its spectrum, infrastructure and some other assets to Reliance Jio.
Since July last year, barring December 2017, the industry has consistently lost subscribers on a net basis. It lost 0.1 million in July, August (-1 million), September (-2.8 million), October (-4.9 million) and November (-15.7 million). In December 2017, the industry added (net) 4.9 million. During November 2017, RCom lost more than 25 million subscribers and together with MTNL, Aircel, Telenor, Tata Teleservices and Sistema, the number was more than 33 million, which is also the highest since January 2017.
However, on the brighter side, the country’s top 5 telcos added 12.6 million subscribers in January — the sixth highest in the last one year. Jio led the tally with 8.3 million subscribers in January 2018 followed by Airtel (1.5 million), Vodafone (1.3 million), Idea (1.1 million) and state-run BSNL (0.4 million). The highest additions were in January 2017 with 26.3 million subscribers followed by November 2017 (17.4 million), February 2017 (16.6 million), March 2017 (15 million), December 2017 (13 million) as well as October 2017 and January 2018 when operators added 12.6 million each.