Positioning itself as a strong contender to Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel has crossed 2 crore subscriber mark in West Bengal state including the Kolkata metro area. According to a latest COAI data, the Mittal led telecom operator now has 20.15 million subscribers in the Bengali spoken state where they had launched India's first 4G network in 2012.
The company which started its services in early 90s has become the second operator to cross the mark in the state where Vodafone India was enjoying supremacy even few years ago. But the 3G launch and rapid expansion of data networks helped Bharti Airtel to boost its subscriber base to a new level in last few years.
While, customers are moving to data based network as usage patterns are changing towards heavy data usages thanks to the availability of affordable 4G and 3G smartphones, we expect Bharti Airtel to continue to add more customers in next few quarters as the company has better 3G and 4G network over Vodafone India. Also, Bharti Airtel's strategy to offer services at lower cost is one of the key reasons which is helping the operator to attract customers from rival networks.
Even Jio's high-speed network is unbeatable in city areas but weak signals in village parts is still a hindrance which wouldn't attract majority of customers especially those who are residing in village parts of the state and use voice minutes mostly.
Vodafone still has almost 25% more subscriber's in the state than Airtel; but Vodafone's premium tariffs and strategy to deploy 4G networks in key pockets is giving the 4G advantage to Airtel. Also, a strong 2G/3G network is playing as a plus factor for Airtel.
As, Vodafone continues to protect its high value postpaid customer base by offering better services and vivid value added benefits, if Airtel wants to improve their market share and ARPU, they will have to focus on signing up those postpaid customers by attractive offers and better services. It would also need to increase the company operated company owned (COCO) Airtel stores in the state as most of the franchise based Airtel Express stores still lag far behind Vodafone's service quality that Vodafone offers through Red and Mini Stores.