Bharti Airtel Beats Reliance Jio To Add Most Active Users For Third Straight Month
A telecom tower. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

Bharti Airtel Beats Reliance Jio To Add Most Active Users For Third Straight Month

Bharti Airtel Ltd. added the highest number of active subscribers for the third straight month in February, maintaining its lead in adding regularly paying users among peers.

The Sunil Mittal-led telecom operator added as many as 3.7 million active subscribers, according to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. That’s however lesser than its six-month average of 4.2 million.

On the other hand, slowing subscriber growth continues to affect Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which lost active users for the second straight month. As many as 0.16 million regularly paying users exited its network in February over a month ago.

While Bharti Airtel’s active subscriber base grew 1.1% over the preceding month, those for Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea fell 0.05% and 0.1%, respectively, the TRAI data, which is released with a lag, showed.

Gross Subscriber Addition

Reliance Jio added 4.27 million gross subscribers in February—1.1 times higher than Bharti Airtel. It outpaced Bharti Airtel on this count after trailing it for six straight months. Jio’s customer accretion is also its highest since June 2020.

Vodafone Idea Ltd. added gross subscribers to its network for the first time since October 2019, gaining 0.65 million users. The company had made an inadvertent error while reporting January 2021 data that showed a 1.7 million increase in gross subscriber base—when it had actually lost 2.3 million subscribers.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio’s gross subscriber base grew 1.1% and 0.2%, and 1% month-on-month in February.

Industry Active Subscribers

The Indian telecom industry continued to add active subscribers for the seventh month in a row in February even as net additions weakened for the third consecutive month.

Active Subscriber Base

Bharti Airtel is on top as the operator with the highest proportion of active users at 97.47%, followed by Vodafone Idea’s 90.61% and Reliance Jio’s 78.16%. That compares with the industry average of 84.09%.

Inactive Subscribers

Bharti Airtel’s inactive user count remained stable in February after widening from September to November. Reliance Jio’s inactive subscriber base widened for the second month on the trot after narrowing in the past few months. Vodafone Idea’s inactive subscribers widened in February after narrowing in the past few months.

Active Subscriber Market Share

Bharti Airtel continued to improve its active subscriber market share even as Reliance Jio witnessed a decline on this count for the second straight month. Vodafone Idea, too, lost its market share.

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