New Delhi: Leading mobile phone operators Bharti Airtel Ltd and the local unit of Vodafone Group Plc saw a decline in their customer base in August, their first such fall, as carriers disconnected inactive users in a clean-up drive.
About 95% of mobile phone users in the India, the world’s second-biggest mobile phone market, are prepaid customers and many have multiple accounts. For the last year or so, some carriers have been cancelling inactive accounts, as their focus shifts to increasing revenue rather than amassing customers.
Market leader Bharti lost a net 1.9 million mobile customers in August, second-ranked Vodafone India lost a net 1.56 million and fourth-ranked Idea Cellular lost 1.65 million, data released by industry body the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) showed on Friday.
“Most of it is due to (the) disconnection of unused numbers,” Rajan Mathews, director general of the COAI, told Reuters.
“The other thing is there is definitely a slowdown in business,” he said, adding slower economic expansion and regulatory concerns in the telecom sector were weighing on customer additions.
Bharti had a total of 186.9 million mobile customers, Vodafone India had a total of 153.4 million and Idea Cellular’s users stood at about 116 million at the end of August, the COAI said.
Reliance Communications, the country’s No.3 mobile phone carrier by subscribers, and sixth-ranked Tata Teleservices are yet to report subscriber data for August.
Reliance lost a net 20.5 million mobile customers in July. Tata Teleservices has reported a decline in customers several times in recent. Reuters