Well, the inevitable has happened at last. State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has added more subscribers than any other telecom operator in India in December 2019. After the prepaid tariff hike in December 2019, everyone expected that BSNL would lead the subscriber addition chart, which is true if the subscription data released by Trai is anything to go by. During the month of December, BSNL added 4.2 lakh new users which was followed by Reliance Jio which added just 82,308 new customers. For the first time since its inception, Reliance Jio has added less than five million users. This will put a lot of questions on Jio's goal of reaching 500 million subscriber base in the next two quarters. As always, Vodafone Idea lost the most number of subscribers in the month, followed by Bharti Airtel and MTNL.
BSNL Beats Reliance Jio for the First Time in Subscriber Additions
Reliance Jio emerged as the winner in almost every month since it launched services to the public back in September 2016. The company averaged more than five million users every month, but the latest prepaid tariff hike and the continuation of IUC have dented its monthly additions for the first time. The Mukesh Ambani-led telco added just 82,308 new users in December 2019 and it is still the leading telco with 32.14% market share.
Government-owned BSNL has managed to grab 427,089 users in the same month, beating Jio for the first time and securing a market share of 10.26%. At the start of December 2019, private telecom operators hiked prepaid tariff prices by up to 40%, but BSNL did not make any major changes to the tariffs except reducing validity in select circles.
The decision of not hiking prepaid tariffs helped BSNL grab more new customers than Reliance Jio in December.
Vodafone Idea Lost 3.6 Million Users in the Same Month
The situation is getting worse for Vodafone Idea as the telco lost 3.6 million users in December 2019. Bharti Airtel also lost just over 11,000 subscribers in the last month of 2019. So the tariff hike effect can also be seen on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. In November 2019, Vodafone Idea lost over 30 million existing customers which dented its overall user base by a considerable margin. And the subscriber losses for the telco continues.
As for the overall standings, Reliance Jio is still the leading telecom operator in India, followed by Vodafone Idea with 28.89% and Bharti Airtel with 28.43%. BSNL continues to be India's fourth-largest telco with a market share of 10.26%.