2 min read.Updated: 11 May 2021, 09:26 PM ISTIshita Guha
Rival Reliance Jio led gains, with the telecom operator adding more subscribers than Bharti Airtel for the first time since July 2020
For the first time since October 2019, Vodafone Idea Ltd added wireless customers to its network. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) data, Vodafone Idea gained 652,625 subscribers in February, after losing 57.7 million customers in the past 15 months.
Rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd led gains, with the Mukesh Ambani-owned telecom operator adding more subscribers than Bharti Airtel Ltd for the first time since July 2020. While Jio gained 4.3 million subscribers in February, Airtel signed up 3.7 million customers during the month.
Despite the addition, Vodafone Idea’s market share shrunk marginally to 24.20% from January, while Airtel’s expanded to 29.83% as of 28 February. At 35.54%, Reliance Jio remains India’s largest operator by market share.
“All service areas except Bihar and Himachal Pradesh showed growth in their wireless subscribers during February. Mumbai showed maximum growth of 4.83% in its wireless subscriber base during the month," Trai said.
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 customer base, Jio’s active subscribers were at 78.16% as of 28 February. Vodafone Idea and Airtel’s active subscribers, or active users on a mobile network, were at 90.61% and 97.47%, respectively.
Jio continued to lead the wireless or mobile broadband segment with 415 million subscribers, while Airtel was a distant second with 185.2 million users at the end of February. Vodafone Idea had 123.3 million mobile broadband users and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) shrunk to 18.6 million, from 18.9 million in January.
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. 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 20.08 million as of 31 January to 20.19 million at the end of February. Of this, BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) together hold 48.23% market share. After BSNL, Airtel has the second highest market share at 23.3% followed by Reliance Jio at 15.6%.
Jio has been adding customers in the wireline segment owning to the introduction of cheaper plans in August 2020. It added 197,130 customers in February, while Airtel gained 61,048 users. Both BSNL and MTNL lost 141,648 and 18,802 fixed-line customers, respectively, in February.
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