ICRA, the Indian Credit Rating agency has issued its report today on the subscriber count of India. The report is on the same lines as of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which revealed that wireless subscriber base in the country has fallen to 1,162 million in March 2019, thus declining by 21.9 million subscribers over the previous month. The active wireless subscriber base, however, has remained almost the same at 1,022 million against the last figure of 1,023 million in February. On the other hand, the wireless broadband subscriber base has maintained a steady pace of growth, thus increasing by 2% in the month of March 2019.
Efforts to Improve ARPU Led to Loss of Subscribers: ICRA
Mr Harsh Jagnani, Sector Head & Vice President- Corporate Ratings, ICRA commented about the new figures, “The decline in total subscriber base in March was largely on account of major telcos introducing minimum recharge plans over the last few months. This was done in a bid to wean out low revenue generating subscribers and thus improve ARPU levels as well as profitability, which have been under consistent pressure over the last couple of years. This decline in subscribers is not expected to materially impact the industry revenue potential.”
The interesting thing to note is that while all the other telcos continue to bleed subscribers, Reliance Jio was the only telco which added subscribers. The Mukesh Ambani led telecom operator added 9.5 million subscribers to its network, thus pushing its total subscriber base past the 300 million mark, further strengthening its position in the industry. Speaking of active subscribers also, Reliance Jio was the telco which gained the most as it added 8 million active subscribers. Next up were, BSNL and MTNL, which added 0.5 million subscribers.
Reliance Jio Continues to Lead Wireless Broadband Subscriber Market
With this addition, Reliance Jio’s active subscriber market share has swollen to 25.2% in March 2019 against the 24.4% which was the market share in February. Vodafone Idea persists on the top spot in this regard with 36% market share which was 36.9% in the previous month and at the third spot is Bharti Airtel with a steady market share of 32.1%.
The wireless broadband subscriber base continues to maintain its constant growth curve, as it increased to 544.9 million in March 2019 or 47% of the total subscriber base. The market witnessed an addition of 12.9 million wireless broadband subscribers during the month. Reliance Jio remains the leader in this market with a market share of 56%, followed by Bharti at 21% and Vodafone-Idea at 20%. The interesting thing to note is that 100% of subscribers are wireless broadband subscribers for Reliance Jio, while the same is not valid for the other telcos. In this regard, Bharti Airtel boasts of 35% wireless broadband subscribers, and Vodafone-Idea stood boasts of 28%.