New Delhi: India’s largest telecom operator Reliance Jio added mobile subscribers at a scorching pace in July, outpacing rivals, and Airtel also spruced up its user tally, even as Vodafone Idea lost 14.3 lakh customers, according to data released by regulator Trai on Thursday.
Reliance Jio gained 65.1 lakh subscribers in July cementing its market lead, while Bharti Airtel added 19.42 lakh customers during the month.
Riding on the massive subscriber gains, the wireless user base of Jio swelled to 44.32 crore in July, according to monthly subscriber data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Among the private operators, Jio was the only telco that added rural subscribers during the month (34.8 lakh).
Airtel’s total wireless subscriber count rose to 35.40 crore in July.
Vodafone Idea, which got a fresh lease of life with a new telecom package announced recently, lost 14.3 lakh wireless users during July, as its subscriber count slipped to 27.19 crore.
Vodafone Idea, MD and CEO, Ravinder Takkar told PTI recently that the company is focused sharply on its strategy, supporting customers, competitiveness, and brand, and with those as well as investments being made, things will certainly fall into place.
He exuded confidence that with strategy in place, the market share declines will be arrested in due course.
Aside from the pandemic-related blips being faced by the industry, overall in the last few quarters, the company’s key metrics such as month-on-month customer numbers for 4G has shown improvement, he said.
“I am confident that it will take place as well but we are not driven by the fact that we have to somehow…away market share from competitors and we are not driven by fact that we have to become the largest player and somehow we have to eat into their share to find a place for self in the market,” Takkar said responding to a query on VIL’s slipping market share and whether a reversal was in sight.
As of July, Reliance Jio has a 37.34 per cent wireless market share, Bharti Airtel is at 29.83 per cent, with Vodafone Idea at 22.91 per cent.
The telecom sector has got a shot in the arm with the Cabinet recently approving a blockbuster relief package for the industry, which includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid, and allowing 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.
The measures, aimed at providing relief to companies like Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) that have to pay thousands of crores in unprovisioned past statutory dues, also include the scrapping of spectrum usage charge (SUC) for airwaves acquired in future auctions.
The reforms package is expected to give the much-needed respite to Vodafone Idea, which was struggling to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, Trai data showed that the number of telephone subscribers in India increased to 120.9 crore at the end of July 2021, a monthly growth rate of 0.57 per cent.
The monthly growth rates of urban and rural telephone subscriptions were 0.70 per cent and 0.42 per cent, respectively, during July 2021.
On the wireless side, the total subscribers increase to 118.6 crore at the end of July 2021, a growth rate of 0.51 per cent.
Monthly growth rates of urban and rural wireless subscriptions were 0.59 per cent and 0.41 per cent, respectively.
“As per the information received from 455 operators in July 2021 in comparison to 440 operators in June 2021, the total broadband subscribers increased from 792.78 million at the end of June-21 to 808.60 million at the end of July 21 with a monthly growth rate of 2 per cent,” Trai said.
Top-5 service providers constituted a 98.7 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of July 2021.
“These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (446.68 million), Bharti Airtel (201.77 million), Vodafone Idea (123.97 million), BSNL (24.26 million) and Atria Convergence (1.93 million),” Trai said in its monthly subscription data.