Older operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea continued to lose subscribers – 41.75 lakh combined – during June, while rival Reliance Jio added over 82.6 lakh users, according to data released by telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).
In absolute terms, Vodafone Idea continued to lead the total subscriber tally at 38.34 crore, followed by Jio with 33.12 crore and Bharti Airtel with 32.03 crore. Vodafone Idea shed 41.45 lakh subscribers, and Bharti Airtel 29,883 customers during June, while the Jio continued to add customers at a breakneck speed.
TRAI data showed that Jio gained 82.68 lakh customers in June, higher than 81.80 lakh additions it had notched in May. In the same month, Jio outrun Bharti Airtel to become the second largest mobile operator with 32.29 crore subscribers and 27.80 per cent market share in May, according to regulator TRAI’s data.
State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd – despite all its financial and operational woes – continued to gain subscribers in June as well. BSNL, which was the only mobile operator apart from Jio to add customers, gained 2.66 lakh users during June.
Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, which have introduced minimum recharge schemes in their quest to chase higher average revenues per user (ARPUs) and improve financials, have seen their subscriber base erode in the past months but the pace of subscriber loss appears to have slowed down in June.
For instance, Vodafone Idea had lost 56.97 lakh subscribers and Bharti Airtel 15.08 lakh users in May. These two operators have been locked in a bruising tariff war following the entry of Reliance Jio, backed by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.
Jio’s entry into the market dented the financial metrics of the operators, deepening the impact of regulatory decisions like cut in termination charges, even though the voice and data usage per se have been growing at a scorching pace.
Jio shook the mobile telephony market with free voice calls and dirt cheap data in 2016, and within three years became the largest telecom player in the market by revenue.
It is now hoping to repeat the feat in fixed line broadband space and has recently announced that ‘Jio Fiber’ will offer free voice calls for life from landlines, 100 mbps minimum broadband speed at subscription starting from Rs 700 a month and free HD TV set on a commitment to an annual plan.
As on June 30, 2019, Vodafone Idea had a subscriber market share of 32.9 per cent, Reliance Jio (28.42 per cent), and Bharti Airtel (27.49 per cent). PTI MBI