Jio, Vodafone Idea lose users

  • Bharti Airtel continued its subscriber gaining streak by adding 1.6 million subscribers in the month

Gulveen Aulakh
Updated20 Apr 2022
Analysts have noted that tariffs increased by all carriers by about 20% in November have led to many customers giving up or pausing recharges of their second or third connections.
Analysts have noted that tariffs increased by all carriers by about 20% in November have led to many customers giving up or pausing recharges of their second or third connections.

Reliance Jio lost 3.6 million customers in February and Vodafone Idea lost 1.5 million due to tariff hikes continued in the quarter ended March 2022, as they lost customers for the third consecutive month. 

The country’s largest and third largest carriers ended the month with 402 million users and 264.5 million users, respectively. In the month of January, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea lost 9.3 million and 0.3 million customers, respectively. While in December, Jio lost over 13 million customers. 

Rival Bharti Airtel continued its subscriber gaining streak by adding 1.6 million subscribers in the month, data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) showed. Airtel’s subscriber base as of February-end was 358 million. Overall subscriber base for the country shrunk by 3.7 million subscribers to 1.141 billion versus 1.145 billion in the previous month. 

Analysts have noted that tariffs increased by all carriers by about 20% in November have led to many customers giving up or pausing recharges of their second or third connections. This sudden reduction in customer base for carriers is referred to as SIM consolidation, and the trend is likely to continue for the quarter ending March 31, 2022, as the full impact of tariff hikes takes effect. 

Both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have downplayed the subscriber loss due to SIM consolidation with Vodafone Idea’s top boss Ravinder Takkar specifying that it continued to add 4G customers, which in turn indicates better earnings for the carrier. 

The average revenue per user (APRU), a key metric of profitability, for carriers, has also been on the rise for all carriers post the tariff hikes. Bharti Airtel recorded the highest APRU among peers, of 163, followed by Jio at 158 and Vodafone Idea at 115. Higher ARPUs would also translate to better profits for carriers that have been giving rock-bottom tariffs for last several years. 

A second round of tariff hikes is also expected within FY23, top executives of both carriers have said in their respective earnings calls. Analysts expect the parameters to improve further in the results for quarter ended March 2022. 

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