Active User Growth Reflects Positive Consumer Outlook Despite Prepaid Tariff Hikes: Charu Paliwal, Counterpoint Research

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which used to be the kind of wired broadband services in India has lost plenty of market share to the private telcos Jio and Airtel. Both Airtel and Jio are now ahead of BSNL in wired broadband.

Highlights

  • The active subscribers of Reliance Jio grew substantially even though the telco’s total subscriber base declined by 9.3 million.
  • Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which used to be the kind of wired broadband services in India has lost plenty of market share to the private telcos Jio and Airtel.
  • BSNL lost 0.17 million wired broadband subscribers in the month of January 2022 while Airtel and Jio added 0.13 million and 0.26 million new users.

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Active user growth

The active subscribers of Reliance Jio grew substantially even though the telco’s total subscriber base declined by 9.3 million. Apart from Vodafone Idea (Vi), every telecom operator in India including the state-run telco Reliance Jio added new users. This is a good sign for the industry overall as it suggests that the consumer outlook towards prepaid tariff hikes is positive only.

“Jio added more than 4 million active subscribers for two consecutive months i.e. Dec and Jan. Its active subscriber base has reached 368.5 million with more than 90% VLR ratio. Not only Jio, other operators except Vi continue to grow their active subscriber base. It reflects positive consumer outlook towards services (despite hikes) and improving subscriber-mix. We expect these factors to positively contribute to ARPU growth for operators,” said Charu Paliwal, Counterpoint Research.

Paliwal further said that the SIM consolidation and the removal of inactive subscribers are still taking place but the level of activity has reduced and the market is expected to stabilise now.

BSNL Losing Market Share on the Back of Stiff Competition

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which used to be the kind of wired broadband service in India has lost plenty of market share to the private telcos Jio and Airtel. Both Airtel and Jio are now ahead of BSNL in wired broadband.

BSNL lost 0.17 million wired broadband subscribers in the month of January 2022 while Airtel and Jio added 0.13 million and 0.26 million new users. This is because of the low capex levels with BSNL as the state-run telco isn’t making any money.

“Jio and Airtel continue to take the leading spots by gaining 0.26 million and 0.13 million subscribers. On the other hand, BSNL lost 0.17 million subscribers on the back of stiff competition from the market leaders,” added Paliwal.

The tariff hikes and a positive consumer outlook toward services should help the telcos improve their ARPU levels aggressively. There’s another prepaid tariff hike expected to come later this year.

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