Telecom companies like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, jointly increased their total subscriber base by 2.27 million in the month of February to reach 817.42 million, according to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) data. In a statement, it said, “…the number of mobile phone subscribers showed an increase to 817.42 million in February 2017. The net increase in subscriber base is 2.27 million in the month of February.” COAI has said that country’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel has added around 1.2 million subscribers in February. Meanwhile, Idea has added the same amount for the month and Vodafone has managed to add 792,063 subscribers. The total number of mobile subscribers of Airtel stands at 270.6 million. While Vodafone has a total subscriber base of 207.2 million and Idea has 193.3 million. Meanwhile, Aircel with 13,309 subscribers added in February boasts of a total consumer case of 91.1 million. Similarly, Telenor India added 986,068 subscribers in its network for the month and the total stands at 51.6 million. Now, the question is, will Reliance Jio be afraid of this, as its free offers are scheduled to end on March 31.
Following Jio’s big roll out as a new network service provider in India, the telecom market got disrupted, followed by a huge hue and cry among telcos, especially Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular because of the freebies. Idea Cellular was compelled to collaborate with a rival, Vodafone which depicts the increasing competitive intensity in the space. While Reliance Jio’s subscriber base has been expanding exponentially, Vodafone and Idea combined, with a 42 percent market share, are now better placed to fight the freebie onslaught because of its synergies. This should make Jio a little apprehensive since its biggest armour was its free offers.
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Meanwhile, Jio and Airtel found themselves amidst an internet speed test war. Airtel, in an advertisement, claimed to give its users the fastest 4G internet speeds. Jio has not been too happy with it, and filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), against Airtel.
Incumbents Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular had filed a petition, where they alleged that the TRAI had erred in allowing Reliance Jio regarding its promotional offer. The interim relief had sought a stay on TRAI order where it cleared Jio’s Welcome and Happy New Year offers. The petition also sought a stay on the offer which will end on March 31. But, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had said that it is not inclined to grant a stay to Reliance Jio promotional offer. TDSAT has also directed TRAI to re-examine Reliance Jio’s Happy New Year offer and submit a report within 2 weeks. The order was about the reconsideration of the January 31 offers.
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It will not be easy for Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and other incumbents to take on Reliance Jio, as according to RIL Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani, Jio had already added 100 million subscribers to its network in just 170 days and it is ever growing.