Jio, Airtel add subscribers, Vodafone Idea losers subscribers
The Indian telecom industry has had a rather eventful timeline of events. Back in early 2000s, Bharti entered the telecom fray to break the stranglehold of MTNL and BSNL. The Indian telecom industry was never the same. Many fell along the wayside and through the decade it was only 3 players viz. Bharti Airtel, Ideal Cellular and Vodafone India (formerly Hutch) that managed to survive and thrive. They virtually dominated the mobile and internet market even as Reliance Communication had lost market as fast as it gained. But the big shift in the Indian telecom industry happened in 2016.
The advent of Reliance Jio as a key player in the telecom space with a Data-first approach, entirely changed the structure of Indian telecom. Mukesh Ambani had invested billions of dollars into creating the Jio ecosystem and could afford to drop prices to levels which other players in the industry could only dream of. There was urgency for M&A as Bharti Airtel acquired Tata Tele and Vodafone India decided to merge with Idea Cellular to create Vodafone Idea. Despite the churn, Reliance Jio emerged as the leader in just 4 years.
Reliance Jio maintains leadership in April 2022
As per the latest telecom data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Reliance Jio added a total of 16.8 lakh mobile subscribers in the month of April. Consequently, Reliance Jio reinforces its leadership with 40.5 crore subscriber as of the close of April 2022, the latest month for which TRAI data has been released. The second largest player, Bharti Airtel, saw addition of 8.1 lakh users during the month of April 2022. This takes the total number of mobile subscribers at Bharti Airtel to 36.11 crore.
Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel gained subscribers at the cost of Vodafone Idea, which has been the trend in the last many months. For the month of April 2022, Vodafone Idea lost 15.7 lakh subscribers to take its total count of mobile subscribers to just about 25.9 crore. Clearly, the gap between Vodafone and the two leaders in the telecom space has been gradually widening. In a sense it is the network effect. More subscribers means more spectrum outlays which means more subscribers. That is not working for Vodafone Idea.
The overall count of wireless subscribers has grown only marginally to 114.3 crore in April 2022, but with such substantial coverage achieved, incremental growth is bound to be slower. However, a coverage of 114.3 crore shows that a substantial portion of the addressable population in India is already covered. The break up stands as under; wireless subscription in urban areas fell to 62.4 crore, while wireless subscription in rural markets inched up to 51.9 crore.As of now the trend is long on rural and short on urban for telecom.
While Bharti and Reliance Jio are close to each other in number of subscribers, the gap is much wider in case of brand subscribers.
Overall, the total broadband subscribers saw a minor increase to 78.87 crore as of the close of April 2022. The broadband subscription is dominated by Reliance Jio with 41.1 crore subscribers, Bharti Airtel with 21.5 crore and Vodafone Idea with just 12.2 crore subscribers. The domination of the top 5 players is such that it covers nearly 98.5% of the broadband market.
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