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Currently, Reliance Jio is the largest telecom company by market share (Photo: iStock)
Currently, Reliance Jio is the largest telecom company by market share (Photo: iStock)

All telcos lost subscribers in 2019 except Reliance Jio, BSNL

  • Vodafone Idea Ltd (Vi) lost the highest number of subscribers followed by Tata Teleservices Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd
  • The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom major added 90.9 million customers in 2019

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) were the only telecom operators to have registered a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in subscriber base in 2019, said Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in its yearly performance indicator report.

The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom major added 90.9 million customers in 2019, taking the total to 371.1 million at the end of December, while BSNL recorded a growth of 1.5% y-o-y at 127.7 million. Currently, Reliance Jio is the largest telco by market share.

Vodafone Idea Ltd (Vi) lost the highest number of subscribers followed by Tata Teleservices Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd. Vodafone Idea’s subscriber base declined by 20.6% y-o-y to 333 million in 2019, while that of Airtel was down 3.7% at 331.6 million.

The loss of millions of subscribers has continued for Vodafone Idea in 2020, with the Birla group company shedding wireless users for the tenth straight month in August. However, the loss in August narrowed versus the previous months hit by covid-led disruptions.

According to Trai data, Airtel added more wireless customers to its network than Reliance Jio in August as the economy continued to reopen post the nationwide lockdown. Airtel added 2.9 million customers in August, while Jio signed up 1.9 million subscribers.

In its report on Wednesday, Trai said Vodafone Idea lost the highest number of wireless customers in 2019, registering a decline of 20.6% y-o-y to 332.6 million. Airtel clocked a fall of 3.8% from a year ago, while Reliance Jio’s wireless customers grew 32.1% y-o-y.

“Private telecom service providers hold 89.5% market share of total wireless telephone subscriptions and PSUs (BSNL & MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd)) hold only 10.6% market share of wireless telephone subscription as on December 2019," Trai said.

Trai said of the total Vodafone Idea subscribers, 51.8% were from rural areas, followed by Airtel at 43.9%. Reliance Jio, which only provides 4G services, had 41% of rural subscribers as of December 2019.

The government’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR) clocked a 6.1% y-o-y rise in 2019 to 1.53 trillion, Trai data showed. Licence fee increased 5.5% to 12,279 crore, while spectrum usage charge was at 4,546 crore in 2019, up 8.6% from a year ago.

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