The decline in mobile broadband subscriber base by 11.2 million in April was a negative surprise, ICICI Securities said in a report on Saturday. The report is based on the telecom subscription data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday. The Trai report highlighted that the Indian telecom operators lost 8.23 million subscribers in April. The ICICI Securities in its report highlighted that the industry active subscriber base dipped by 31.3 million due to “lockdown and non-availability of offline recharges.”
Decline of Mobile Broadband Subscriber Base a Negative Surprise
Crucially, ICICI Securities said that decline in mobile broadband subscriber base “despite a significant rise in the importance of requirement of data connectivity” emerged as a negative surprise.
According to the Trai data, Bharti Airtel is said to have lost 3.97 million mobile broadband subscribers in April. The operator registered a mobile broadband subscriber base of 144.76 million in April as compared to 148.57 million in March.
Similarly, Vodafone Idea (VIL) registered a decline in its mobile broadband subscriber base in April with the operator losing 6.07 subscribers in April. The third largest operator in India registered a mobile broadband subscriber base of 111.38 million in April as compared to 117.45 million in March.
“VIL lost most MBB subs on lower base,” ICICI Securities said in its report. “We have factored highest revenue decline for VIL in Q1FY21 and it vindicates our assumption.”
However, Reliance Jio emerged as the lone operator to record an increase in its mobile broadband subscriber base with the operator registering an increase of 1.6 million users in April. According to Trai data, the operator with the largest market share in India registered a mobile broadband subscriber base of 389.99 million in April as compared to 388.39 million in March.
Active Subscriber Base of Telecom Operators Could be Lower
Further, the ICICI Securities in its report said that the overall active subscriber base of the telecom operators could be on the lower side due to the labour migration.
The data for active subscribers is said to be calculated based on the proportion between visitor location register (VLR) and home location register (HLR). While the HLR data provides the total subscriber base of an operator, the VLR represents the subscriber roaming into one particular network at any given time. It has to be noted that the subscriber can be present at a single network at any point of time, thus, signifying the importance of VLR data.
The ICICI Securities in its report said that the VLR data is based on an operator’s “best day” in the past 30 days and that the “worst” case scenario “could be much lower.” The report highlighted that the active subscriber base of Reliance Jio shrunk by 7.2 million in April with the operator witnessing the least decline of the active subscribers in the industry. Further, the active subscriber base of Airtel and VIL are said to have been declined by eight million and 14.1 million respectively.