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Home >Industry >Telecom >Airtel tops Jio in wireless additions, Vi’s loss narrows

Bharti Airtel Ltd added more wireless customers to its network than rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd in August as the economy continued to reopen, with some activities nearing pre-covid levels. However, Vodafone Idea lost 1.2 million subscribers, shedding customers for the tenth straight month, but lower than the previous months hit by the covid-led disruptions.

While Airtel added 2.9 million customers in August, Jio signed up 1.9 million subscribers, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) data released on Tuesday.

Airtel gained 0.91% market share of wireless subscribers, while Jio’s user base grew by 0.47% in August. At 35.08%, Jio remains the largest telecom player by market share followed by Airtel at 28.12% and Vodafone Idea at 26.15%, the Trai data showed.

Total wireless subscribers increased to 1.15 billion in August from 1.14 billion in July, registering a monthly growth of 0.3%. Wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 620.7 million at the end of July to 624.9 million in August, while it fell in rural areas from 523.5 million to 522.9 million, indicating reverse migration of workers.

According to a top official at Airtel, the telco is yet to see full influx of migrant workers to urban cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai. Migrant workers had returned to native places due to lack of source of income after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“In quarter two, we have seen many people coming back, it’s not as much as it used to be, but 40-50% people have come back. There are still a lot of people in rural areas hesitant to come back yet," the official said.

Wireline subscribers rose by 66,771 to 19.9 million at the end of August. “The share of urban and rural subscribers in total wireline subscribers were 89.83% and 10.17%, respectively, at the end of August," Trai said.

In terms of market share of fixed-line subscribers, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) continues to be the leader at 39.84% followed by Airtel at 21.86%. State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) holds 15.34% market share.

Reliance Jio, which has announced cheaper tariff plans to attract more customers to its broadband service JioFibre, added the highest number of wireline users, 160,794, in August with 8.92% market share.

Both Jio and Airtel have rolled out cheaper broadband plans amid the Centre’s push to improve wireline connectivity as covid-led remote working has significantly increased data consumption and dependency on network, leading to slower internet speeds.

BSNL lost the most number of wireline customers at 97,855 and MTNL recorded a loss of 31,937 wireline customers in August.

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