Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. added the highest monthly users in a year as it continues to gain subscribers at the expense of smaller telecom operators.
Reliance Jio added close to 87 lakh subscribers in February, the highest since February 2017, according to the latest data released by the telecom regulator. It now has 17.7 crore users or 15.3 percent share of the market.
The user addition could have been partly fuelled by lower tariffs and JioPhone. The carrier cut pricing twice in January.
About 86 percent of Reliance Jio’s subscribers are active on the network, lower than its larger peers. The number of active users, however, has been increasing consistently.
Reliance Jio’s larger rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone India Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. together added close to 1.2 crore subscribers. Vodafone added the most users in 18 months and Idea Cellular the highest in 16 months.
Overall, all carriers together added a net of 49 lakh users in February.
Among the smaller operators, barring state-owned BSNL, all lost subscribers in February. Reliance Communications Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd., Aircel, MTNL and Telenor’s customer base fell by more than 1.65 crore during the month.
Tata Teleservices and Telenor have completely stopped providing services, while Aircel has reportedly halted services in six of its circles and filed for insolvency. Anil Ambani owned RCom sold its assets and has decided to operate as a virtual network operator.
The pressure on customer addition and SIM consolidation is expected to continue as carrier on the verge of exiting consumer wireless services still have close to 13.2 percent of India’s user base.
Reliance Jio’s customer market share increased the most by 69 basis points, while that of other operators rose 20 to 31 basis points.
Since Reliance Jio’s launch, only Vodafone India has lost its share, while Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have managed to hold their ground.