Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. added the highest number of users in 11 months, staying ahead of rivals in subscriber addition amid consolidation in the industry.
Reliance Jio added close to 83 lakh subscribers in January, according to the latest data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. That compares with the combined addition of 39 lakh by Bharti Airtel Ltd., Idea Cellular Ltd. and Vodafone India Ltd.
Jio continues to offer lower tariffs, having cut its prices twice in January. Its JioPhone too is helping the operator bring more feature phone subscribers on board as it continues to disrupt the world’s second largest telecom market with its aggressive pricing. That reflected in the performance of the overall industry.
The telecom sector lost more than 1.5 crore subscribers as the number of multi-sim users fell. That’s due to consolidation among service providers and cheap bundled plans.
Jio’s subscriber addition, on the other hand, rose for the second consecutive month after falling in November.
Among the other smaller operators, customer base fell for all barring state-owned BSNL. Reliance Communications Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd., Aircel, MTNL and Telenor’s users fell by more than 2.8 crore in January.
Tata Teleservices and Telenor have completely stopped their services after being taken over by Bharti Artel, while Aircel reportedly stopped services in six of its circles and filed for insolvency. Anil Ambani-owned RCom has sold its assets and decided to operate as a virtual network operator.
The pressure on customer addition and sim consolidation is expected to continue as the operators close to exiting the market have close to 15 percent of the total subscribers.
Reliance Jio’s customer market share also increased the most in January—90 basis points compared with 30 to 45 basis points for its rivals.
Since Reliance Jio’s launch, only Vodafone India’s customer market share has declined, while Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have managed to protect their share.