India’s total mobile subscriber base fell by 3.7 million in September after rising continuously for six straight months, according to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The total mobile user base stood at 1.145 billion at the end of September compared to 1.149 billion in August.
The reason for the fall in subscriber base can largely be attributed to the SIM card consolidation owing to inflationary pressures, according to analysts. SIM card consolidation refers to reduction in mobile network connections by consumers owing to issues such as affordability of tariffs.
The fall in total subscribers was largely contributed by Vodafone Idea, which lost 4 million subscribers during the month. For the beleaguered telecom operator, the fall in subscribers was the highest in 15 months. The company, however, has been losing subscribers for 18 months now.
Comparatively, Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom operator by market share, has topped the wireless subscribers’ additions for the sixth straight month. In September, the telecom operator added 0.72 million new wireless subscribers on a net basis, compared to 0.41 million new users added by peer Bharti Airtel, Trai data showed.
In September, the growth in wireless user base for Reliance Jio has been weak, whereas for Bharti Airtel it improved marginally compared to last month.
As of September-end, Reliance Jio has a wireless subscribers’ market share of 36.66%, up from 36.48% in August. The company’s total wireless subscribers rose to 419.96 million. In comparison, Bharti Airtel’s market share rose to 31.80% in September from 31.66% in August, whereas Vodafone Idea’s fell to 21.75% from 22.03% in August in the wireless subscribers segment.
The wireless subscribers’ base of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea was at 364.22 million and 249.13 million, respectively at the end of September. Bharti Airtel added subscribers for the 11th straight month. State-owned BSNL lost wireless subscribers for the ninth straight month. In September, the company lost 0.78 million wireless subscribers, taking its total base to 109.28 million.
In the wireline segment, Jio continues to lead. The operator added 0.29 million subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel at 0.20 million. As of September-end, Jio’s total wireline subscribers’ base was at 7.65 million, whereas that of Airtel was at 6.40 million. BSNL continues to lose the subscribers in the wireline segment. In September, the company lost 32,253 subscribers, taking its total base to 7.1 million.
According to Trai, in September, 11.97 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP). “The cumulative MNP requests increased from 736.14 million at the end of August to 748.11 million at the end of September, since the implementation of MNP,” the regulator said.
The total number of active mobile users in India rose by 0.55 million in September. Of the total 1.145 billion wireless subscribers, 1.014 billion or 88.52% 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, Bharti Airtel remained at top with the highest visitor location register among the telecom players at 98.56%, higher than 98.31% in August. The company has an active subscriber base of 358.97 million as of September-end, higher than 357.66 million in August.
Jio’s visitor location register rose marginally to 91.93% in September. Its active subscribers rose by 1.42 million to 386 million. Vodafone Idea’s active subscribers fell for the sixth straight month, down 2.1 million to 212.19 million in September. Wireless broadband subscribers in the country rose by 1.53 million in September, taking the tally to 783.99 million. Wireless broadband users largely include those on the 4G network. Bharti Airtel added 0.97 million users, taking its total to 219.82 million, whereas Vodafone Idea 0.08 million wireless broadband users in September, taking its subscribers base to 123.20 million.