Telecom Operators Yet to See Pre COVID-19 Activity Levels

The “limited recovery” shown by the operators in May, 2020 is said to have been eroded.

The Indian telecom operators including Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have not seen the pre COVID-19 activity levels on their network, Motilal Oswal said in a report on Thursday. The firm engaged in the financial services in a report reflected on the Telecom Subscription Data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for June, 2020. The data released by TRAI highlights that the telecom industry lost 3.2 million subscribers in June, 2020 with the telecom operators now having a combined gross subscriber base of 1.14 billion.

Telecom Operators Continue to Lose Subscribers

Motilal Oswal highlighted that the June, 2020, was the fourth consecutive month of the telecom industry witnessing a decline in gross subscriber base “due to COVID-19 crisis.” Vodafone Idea is said to have lost around 4.8 million subscribers while Airtel lost around 1.1 million users in June, 2020. However, Trai data highlights that Reliance Jio added around 4.5 million users in June, 2020.

The firm also said that the industry witnessed 2.8 million active subscriber churn in June, 2020 to reach 958 million users.

“Thus, the benefit of limited recovery that happened in May’20 has eroded,” Motilal Oswal said in its report. “It remains to be seen whether the number of subscribers would return to the previous level with the opening up of the economy or it would permanently decline by 3% from the pre COVID-19 level.”

Reliance Jio Lost 2.1 Million Active Users in June

Motilal Oswal highlighted that Airtel added 3.7 million active users in June, 2020 to increase its active user base to 311 million. The operator is said to have lost 200,000 active users in May, 2020 and around eight million users in April, 2020.

“Despite adding healthy active subscribers, Bharti has not reached its pre COVID-19 levels of 315 million,” Motilal Oswal said in its report.

The firm also highlighted that Reliance Jio active subscriber base declined by 2.1 million in June, 2020. Reliance Jio is said to have added 6.2 million users in May, 2020 while it lost 7.2 million users in April, 2020. The largest telecom operator in India is said to have an active user base of 310 million in June, 2020. Similar to Airtel, Motilal Oswal said that Reliance Jio is “also yet to reach its pre COVID-19 levels” of 314 million active users.

Further, Motilal Oswal said that Vodafone Idea “maintained its pace of gross subscriber reduction while the pace of active subscriber reduction increased” to 3.7 million in June, 2020. In the previous month, the operator is said to have lost 2.8 million active users with its active user base at 273 million in June, 2020.

“We believe VIL’s continuous loss of subscribers is primarily led by its weak network capabilities and speculation around its business continuity, given its massive outstanding AGR dues,” Motilal Oswal said in its report. “However, how its subscriber trend pans out remains to be seen now that the SC has given its verdict on the AGR matter.”

Crucially, Motilal Oswal highlighted that the wireless operators added 14 million monthly broadband (MBB) subscribers in June, 2020. According to the Trai data, the wireless operators now said to have around 678 million MBB subscribers with the industry earlier witnessing a decline of 11.2 million users in April, 2020. However, the operators added around 7.3 million MBB subscribers in May, 2020.

Motilal Oswal said that the MBB subscriber base now accounts for 70.8% of the total subscribers in the market, representing an 59% increase since June, 2019. Bharti Airtel is said to have led the MBB subscriber additions with the operator adding 5.3 million MBB users in June, 2020. In May and April, Airtel is said to have added 1.2 million MBB users and 3.8 million MBB users respectively.

Further, Reliance Jio is said to have added 4.5 million MBB users in June, 2020 with the operator expanding its total subscriber base to 397 million users.

Vodafone Idea also said to have shown further improvement in its MBB subscriber base with the operator adding 3.4 million MBB subscribers in June, 2020. The operator in the previous month is said to have added 1.7 million MBB subscribers with its total MBB subscriber base now said to be at 116 million. Motilal Oswal said that it was the “first time VIL’s market share has improved since September 2018.”

Born in India, Yogesh loves to travel and has lived in multiple countries including New Zealand and Canada. His bylines can be found on various newspapers and blogs throughout the world, including Vancouver Sun, Surrey Now-Leader, Daily Hive , Investing News Network and Rach F1.

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