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Home / Industry / Telecom /  Vodafone Idea adds customers in January, first time since October 2019

New Delhi: For the first time since October 2019, Vodafone Idea Ltd added wireless customers in January. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) data, the cash-strapped telecom operator signed up 1.7 million customers during the month, after losing 55.4 million subscribers since October 2019.

Rival Bharti Airtel Ltd led gains, adding 5.9 million users in January, while slowing wireless subscriber growth continued to hit Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s tally. The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom company added nearly 2 million customers in January.

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Despite the addition, Vodafone Idea’s market share shrunk marginally to 24.58% month-on-month, while Airtel’s expanded to 29.62% as of 31 January. At 35.30%, Reliance Jio remains India’s largest telco by market share.

“All service areas except Mumbai showed growth in their wireless subscribers during January. Uttar Pradesh (West) service area showed maximum growth of 6.45% in its wireless subscriber base during the month," Trai said in its monthly data.

Despite having the highest market share in the wireless segment, Reliance Jio’s active subscribers were the lowest among the top three telcos. Of the total customers, Jio’s active subscriber base was at 79.01% as of 31 January. Vodafone Idea and Airtel's active subscribers, or active users on a mobile network, were at 89.63% and 97.44%, respectively.

Jio continued to lead the wireless or mobile broadband segment, with 410.7 million subscribers, while Airtel was a distant second with 181.7 million users. Vodafone Idea had 122.7 million mobile broadband users and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) had 18.9 million.

Mobile broadband users are those using internet with download speeds of equal to or more than 512Kbps (kilo byte per second), implying that all customers on 3G/4G fall under this category. Reliance Jio provides only 4G service, which means all its customers are by default on mobile broadband.

In the wired or fixed-line segment, total subscribers increased from 20.05 million at the end of December to 20.08 million as of 31 January. Of this, state-owned BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) together hold 49.3% market share. After BSNL, Airtel has the second highest market share at 23.1% followed by Reliance Jio at 14.7%.

Jio has been adding customers in the wireline segment owing to the introduction of cheaper plans in August 2020. It added 196,437 customers in January and Airtel gained 76,654 users during the month. Both BSNL and MTNL lost 213,575 and 18,545 fixed-line customers in January, respectively.

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