Wireless telecom subscriber base reduced by 28.8 million in November, according to data provided by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The loss was led by Vodafone Idea which lost 36.41 million subscribers during the month.
This takes Vodafone Idea’s cumulative subscriber exodus to 105.4 million since September 2018 when the two telco operators merged. Note that during the month of October, Jio introduced charges for calls outside the network. Reliance Jio mobile phone customers needed to buy top-up vouchers to make outgoing voice calls to any non-Jio mobile number like that of Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Company (Vodafone Idea) sources have confirmed that the sudden dip was because company has reduced time period of recording active subscriber from 120 days to 90 days and the company keeps deleting inactive subscribers so the reduction is the result of the same. Had it remained 120 days, the reduced number would have come at the end of December, said the source.
Both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel increased mobile tariffs in December so the subscriber exodus happened before the price hike. Circles of all categories showed monthly decline rate in their subscribers during the month resulting in the overall telecom subscriber base reducing by 2.4% to 1,175.88 million compared to the October subscriber base.
This dip in wireless subscriber is the largest in the past year. In March 2019, wireless subscriber base had dropped by 21.87 million almost a quarter after the telecom operators introduced the first round of minimum recharge plans for SIM consolidation across the market.
The overall Tele-density in India declined from 91.17% in November compared to October. During the month, Bharti continued to lead the active subscriber base count with 95% active subscriber base while Jio reported 81 % active subscribers. The overall wireline tele-density declined from 1.62 at the end of October to 1.61 at the end of November. Urban telephone subscription declined from 681.69 million at the end of October to 665.99 million at the end of November, and the rural subscription also declined from 523.16 million to 509.89 million during the same period.
Out of the total wireless subscribers (1,154.59 million), 979.09 million wireless subscribers were active on the date of peak VLR in the month of November. The proportion of active wireless subscribers was approximately 84.80% of the total wireless subscriber base.