Telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel witnessed a slowdown in mobile subscriber additions in February. This comes as the total mobile subscriber base fell during the month, which was the highest fall in the last three months, according to data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Jio added over 1 million mobile subscribers in February, which was its lowest addition in the last five months, whereas Airtel added 0.98 million subscribers, its lowest in the last three months. The total mobile user base was 1.141 billion at the end of February, down by 1.06 million from the preceding month.
According to experts, the fall in subscriber base can be attributed to people discarding their additional SIM card connection. Further, an increase in the blocking of fake SIM cards by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is also seen contributing to a fall in subscriber base during the month.
In the absence of new subscriber additions, Jio and Airtel are gaining at the expense of Vodafone Idea, analysts said. In February, Vodafone Idea lost over 2 million mobile subscribers. The telecom operator has been losing subscribers for 23 straight months now. Besides, the company in February lost 1.28 million 4G subscribers, which was the highest fall in the last 21 months.
As of February end, Reliance Jio has a wireless subscribers’ market share of 37.41%, up from 37.28% in January. The company’s total wireless subscribers rose to 427.18 million. In comparison, Bharti Airtel’s market share rose to 32.39% from 32.27% in January, while Vodafone Idea’s share fell to 20.84% from 20.99% in January, in the wireless subscribers’ segment.
The wireless subscribers’ base of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea was at 369.87 million and 237.96 million, respectively at the end of February. State-owned BSNL lost wireless subscribers for the 14th straight month. In February, the company lost nearly 1.03 million wireless subscribers. BSNL’s total subscriber base as of February end was 104.09 million.
In rural areas, the overall mobile subscriber base fell by 0.3 million to 515.60 million, while the urban subscriber base fell by 0.76 million to 626.37 million.
As per the TRAI data, barring Assam, Mumbai, Delhi, Rajasthan, North East, Kolkata, and Tamil Nadu areas, all other service areas have shown a decline in their wireless subscribers during the month of February.
In February, 11.17 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP). “With this, the cumulative MNP requests increased from 796.84 million at the end of January to 808 million at the end of February, since implementation of the MNP,” Trai said.
The overall wireless broadband subscribers base which largely includes 4G subscribers rose by 0.48 million in February, taking the tally to 805.38 million. Bharti Airtel added 2.2 million wireless broadband users in February, taking its subscriber base to 233.74 million. Vodafone Idea’s 4G subscriber base fell to 123.74 million.
In the wireline segment, Jio continues to take the lead. The operator added nearly 0.19 million subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel at 98,627 users. As of February end, Jio’s total wireline subscribers’ base was at 8.8 million, whereas that of Airtel was over 7 million.
During the month, BSNL lost 21,367 users in the wireline segment. As of February end, the company’s total base of wireline users was at 7.06 million.
In February, the total number of active mobile users rose by 2.7 million. Of the total 1.141 billion wireless subscribers, 1.027 bln or 89.98% were active, according to the peak visitor location register, which shows the number of active subscribers, including those roaming on a mobile operator’s network.
During the month, Reliance Jio’s active users rose by nearly 3.15 million to 397.6 million. The company’s visitor location register rose to 93.08% from 92.56% in January.
Bharti Airtel remained at top with the highest visitor location register subscribers among the telecom players at 99.25%. The company’s active subscribers’ base rose by 0.79 million, taking its total active subscribers’ base to 367.09 million as of February end.
Vodafone Idea’s total active subscribers fell for the 11th straight month in February. Vodafone Idea’s active subscriber base fell by 0.79 million to 208.34 million.