Numbers can often be deceptive. Reliance Jio, India's largest telecom operator, added around 1.42 million wireless subscribers in November 2022. The data has been pulled from the latest monthly performance report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). As per the report, Jio and Airtel added wireless subscribers during the month, while BSNL and Vi lost. However, that's not the thing which matters. What really matters is how many active users did the telcos add. As per the data published by TRAI, Airtel added close to 1 million active users, while Jio lost 2 million active users.
It's hard to recall the last time when Jio lost active users. Jio was also a little ahead of Airtel in rolling out 5G to many parts of the nation. Thus, it is hard to understand why Jio lost active users. The tariffs of Jio are also lower than any other private telecom operator. Vodafone Idea and BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) lost around 2 million and 0.5 million active subscribers, respectively.
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What's the Reason Behind Jio Losing Out on Active Subscribers
The only apparent reason that comes to mind is a weaker quality service. But according to Opensignal, Jio's 4G networks are the best in India when it comes to availability and coverage. It is also worth noting that Jio is offering its 5G for no additional cost to 4G users. But for you to experience Jio's 5G, first of all, you need a smartphone that supports 5G SA (standalone); then, you need to get an invite from the company.
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A lower active subscriber base would mean weak growth in the ARPU (average revenue per user) per month figure. That's what exactly happened to Jio in Q3 FY23. The telco's ARPU stood at Rs 178.2, up by only Rs 1 QoQ. This means that the telco needs a tariff hike desperately to boost profits and revenues. Without a tariff hike, Jio's revenues would most likely be at the same level.
The telco is trying to push users to subscribe to the Rs 239 plan at least by only offering the 5G Welcome Offer invite to the customers who are recharged with the Rs 239 plan or above. It would be interesting to see how the telco performed in the month of December 2023.