Vodafone Idea Adds Subscribers After 15 Months In January
A telecom tower. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

Vodafone Idea Adds Subscribers After 15 Months In January

Vodafone Idea Ltd. added customers to its network for the first time in 15 months in January even as its active subscriber base—or regularly paying users—fell.

The mobile operator’s gross subscribers rose 0.6% month-on-month, or by 1.71 million, according to data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Its active subscriber base, however, fell 0.1%—or by around 0.3 milion—over the preceding month.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. added 6.9 million active subscribers in January, the highest among peers, while Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. lost 3.4 million subscribers.

The Mukesh Ambani-controlled mobile operator was the most aggressive in the recently concluded spectrum auctions. Analysts said Reliance Jio is facing network constraints and the investments will help the company to bridge the gap between spectrum market share and subscriber market share. Along with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel also increased its spectrum holding. That, according to Goldman Sachs, will help them aid their market shares.

Gross Subscriber Addition

Bharti Airtel added 5.89 million gross subscribers in January—thrice more than Reliance Jio. The Sunil Mittal-led company outpaced Reliance Jio on this count for the sixth straight month.

India’s newest mobile operator added 1.96 million users—significantly lower than the average additions of 2.38 million users in the last nine months of the ongoing financial year.

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio’s gross subscriber base grew 1.7% and 0.5% month-on-month in January.

Industry Active Subscribers

The Indian telecom industry continued to add active subscribers for the sixth straight month in January even as net additions fell for the second straight month.

Active Subscriber Base

Bharti Airtel has the highest proportion of active users at 97.44%, followed by Vodafone Idea’s 89.63% and Reliance Jio’s 79.01%. That compares with the industry average of 84.12%.

Inactive Subscribers

Bharti Airtel’s inactive user count declined for the second straight month in January after widening from September to November. Reliance Jio’s and Vodafone Idea’s inactive subscribers base widened in January after narrowing in the past few months.

Active Subscriber Market Share

Bharti Airtel improved its active subscriber market share in January, while Reliance Jio's slipped. Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, continues to witness a decline on this metric.

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