Airtel Wins Over Reliance Jio on New Subscriber War

Nov 17, 2017, 10:05 am

Shahid M.

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A new report from India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) published on Thursday shows that most telecom service providers in India have experienced a considerable decrement in their active subscriber base over the past year.

There are some exceptions though with Bharti Airtel being the biggest one. Airtel has gained a massive 23 million active users in that mentioned period. The Idea Cellular has gained 11.9 million active subscribers as measured by peak Visitor Location Register (VLR). Vodafone has gained 5.1 million active subscribers as well. However, both Idea & Vodafone have reported subscriber loss in the past three months.

According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Airtel had the highest number of subscribers counting over 282 million at September end. Vodafone India holds the second position with over 207 million during the same period. Idea, with over 190 million absolute users, is ranked third.

Airtel was seen leading the market with 29.8% share. Airtel is followed by Vodafone with 21.91% and Idea with 20.09% share. Surprisingly Reliance Jio has a subscriber market share of 13.6% at September end.

In the start of August, Reliance Jio’s active subscriber base was relatively low, standing at 100 million mainly due to its lower active subscribers percentage of at 75%. The number did reach to 133 million by end of August though. Deep obvious saturation Reliance Jio continues to gain subscribers steadily at a rate of 4-5 million per month.

The Ind-Ra report explained Reliance Jio’s market share gain as “largely explained by the dual-SIM phenomenon and rapid loss of market position by the smaller telcos”.
The report states, “RJio’s biggest impact has been on data consumption pattern as all its wireless subscribers are by default broadband data subscribers. This has increased not only their absolute number of data subscribers but also its discounted tariffs have increased the data consumption multi-fold.”

They believe that the company is trying to maintain its momentum through discounted tariffs and cash back offers.

In the 2017 financial year, the telecom revenues have dropped by 2% to ₹1.9 trillion. It’s believed to be caused mainly by the free pricing by Reliance Jio in the second half of the year. The rest of the industry took up the same policy to respond.

According to the Ind-Ra report, “The industry revenues could revive over 12-18 months period led by RJio increasing its tariffs, exit of smaller telcos and expansion of the data revenue base.”

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