The industry kept adding new subscribers at a steady pace last year even though Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) kept losing subscribers. This was due to the steady growth of Jio’s and Airtel’s subscribers base. According to a report from Motilal Oswal dissecting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) report, the subscriber base for the whole industry was just 1.4% lesser (December 2020) that what it used to be in pre-COVID era at 989.1 million in March 2020. The gross subscribers for the industry fell by 1.4 million MoM (after adding 14.5m over Jul-Nov 2020) to 1.15 billion in December 2020. The loss was partially offset by the growth of Jio and Airtel. The report says that active subscribers base for the industry grew by 7 million in December 2020 to 975 million.
Bharti Airtel Gains the Most Active Subscriber Market Share
Bharti Airtel added 4.1 million/5.5 million gross/active subscribers at 339 million/329 million in December 2020. This helped the company regain its top position in terms of active subscriber market share (SMS) gained since Jio only gained 0.5 million 4G subscribers giving Airtel 94% incremental SMS.
Reliance Jio, on the other hand, saw a very slowed monthly gross/4G subscriber additions of 0.5 million in December 2020 at 409 million subscribers. But the telco’s active subscriber additions were better than this figure at 3.2 million, but it was slower than November’s 5.4 million. Jio still had 35.4% SMS, but Airtel is closing in despite having much less number of gross subscribers.
The pace of gross and active subscribers loss for VIL continued, with the telco losing 5.7 million gross and 1.5 million active subscribers during December 2020 to 284 million/257 million. Oswal has marked this as a key red flag since the Q3 results of the telco suggested that the subscriber loss rate should decelerate in the coming months.
4G subscribers addition for the industry slowed down to 4.9 million at 724 million in December 2020. As for the wired broadband subscribers, the industry added 0.4 million new subscribers taking the total base to 22.9 million.