Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s revenue market share rose for the first time in three quarters. But that’s the only solace as the second-placed upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. narrowed the gap with India’s No. 1 wireless carrier.
Billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal-owned Bharti Airtel’s share in the industry’s gross revenue—adjusted for interconnect charges and other deductions*—rose 116 basis points to 29.1 percent in the quarter ended March, according to their filings with the regulator. That’s partly because Aircel Ltd.’s numbers were not factored in as the insolvent operator didn’t disclose its revenue. After adjusting for Aircel’s revenue, Bharti Airtel’s share rose 9 basis points, according to BloombergQuint’s calculations.
In comparison, Reliance Jio’s share rose 580 basis points quarter-on-quarter to 25.55 percent.
The upstart led by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has hurt profits and revenue per user of older rivals after it first offered free services and then cheaper plans to win subscribers. The incumbers were forced to cut pricing to protect their share.
In the quarter ended March, Vodafone India Ltd. also managed to marginally improve its share in adjusted gross revenue. For the full year through March, Bharti Airtel led with 30 percent compared to Reliance Jio’s 14.2 percent.
Reliance Jio has been gaining at the expense of both larger and smaller operators. Among the smaller players, state-owned BSNL and MTNL gained revenue share in the quarter ended March.
Telenor Communications Pvt. Ltd. and Tata Teleservices Ltd. sold assets to Bharti Airtel Ltd. and shut shop. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd. sold its assets to elder brother Mukesh’s Reliance Jio. RCom is now a virtual network operator.
Overall, the telecom industry’s adjusted gross revenue declined in the quarter ended March but at a slower pace—down 7.8 percent to Rs 24,332 crore.
(*The comparison excludes national long distance (NLD) revenue, which is not disclosed circle wise).