3G and 4G Subscriber Base Increased by 10 Million to 532 Million in India During the Last One Year: CLSA

After rising sharply to 21 million in January this year, the 3G/4G subscriber additions normalised to 10 million, taking the 3G/4G subscriber base to 532 million

Highlights
  • Reliance Jio will likely lead the overall subscriber market share by the end of 2019
  • Vodafone Idea continues to lose subscribers in a huge margin

Reliance Jio’s eight million strong subscriber additions, Airtel’s stable market share and Voda Idea losing customers is the sum of brokerage firm CLSA ‘s telecom sector outlook for February 2019, that projects Jio will lead the subscriber market share in the current year. In its India Telecom report, CLSA said Indian mobile subscribers in February increased by two million to 1,184 million, with Reliance Jio adding eight million, while Bharti Airtel subscribers remained flat and Vodafone Idea lost six million, month-on-month (MoM).

Over the past year, Jio’s active subscriber market share has gone up to 24%, gaining nine percentage points (ppts), Bharti has maintained its share at 32% and Vodafone Idea lost five percentage point to fall to 37%, CLSA said.

The number of 3G and 4G subscribers increased by 10 million to 532 million, the report added. According to the report, mobile number portability (MNP) requests declined 10% MoM and this, along with the increase in Jio’s subscribers in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal, could imply that a part of the dual-SIM users are shifting usage back to incumbent networks.

“With the India mobile being a three-player oligopoly and rising data adoption, we remain positive on Jio which will emerge as a leading telco in 2019, and also Bharti, given its strong market-share defence and inevitable turn in revenues,” CLSA said.

Subscriber market-share gains for Jio will continue, the report forecast. The MoM active subscriber base for the sector was flat as Jio’s gains were offset by MoM declines of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. The divergence between active and reported subscribers for Jio remains high at 16% against four to eight per cent for Bharti and Vodafone Idea, the report stated.

It said the 3G/4G subscriber additions have now normalised on a monthly basis. After rising sharply to 21 million in January this year, the 3G/4G subscriber additions normalised to 10 million, taking the 3G/4G subscriber base to 532 million.

The subscribers of 3G and 4G now form 45% of the reported industry mobile subscriber base, the report added. “Of the 10 million additions, we estimate that 0.5 million additions were from smartphone users and remaining were JioPhone additions,” CLSA said.

According to the brokerage, Vodafone Idea added 0.4 million 3G/4G subscribers in February 2019. Over the past year, Bharti’s push on bundled plans helped the operator take its 3G/4G smartphone subscribers share to 24%, gaining 3 ppts.

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