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Bharti’s minimum tariff hike is beneficial for RJio, ICICI Securities

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its data on subscribers (subs) for Apr’23. Industry-wide active sub base rose by 4.1mn MoM (vs rise of 6.7mn in Mar’23 and rise of 3.4mn average in the past six months) with Bharti Airtel (Bharti) adding only 0.7mn subs (vs 1.8mn in the past six months), impacted by an increase in minimum recharge. Reliance Jio’s (RJio) active subs rose by 4.7mn in Apr’23 (vs +2.7mn in the past six months). VIL saw its active subs falling by 0.9mn. Industry-wide mobile broadband (MBB) sub net add was 4.1mn (vs increase of 4.7mn in the past six months). Bharti’s MBB subs rose 2.3mn and its market share expanded to 30.1% (up 8bps MoM) on active basis, while RJio’s rose 22bps to 51.5%. MNP slightly dipped to 11mn with churn rate at 1%. Dip in churn should help drive subs acquisition cost lower for operators.

Industry-wide active sub base rose by 4.1mn MoM in Apr’23

  • Industry-wide active sub base rose by 4.1mn to 1,038mn (up 0.6% MoM, +1.2% YoY).
  • RJio’s active sub base jumped 4.7mn (average +2.7mn in the past six months) to 407mn in Apr’23. Total subs rose by 3mn to 433mn, and active subs as a percentage of total subs improved to 94%, up 45bps MoM. RJio should have benefited from Bharti’s minimum recharge increase, which has supported strong active subs addition, in our view.
  • Bharti’s active sub base rose 0.7mn (vs +1.8mn in the past six months) to 370mn. Its total sub base increased by 0.1mn. Bharti has increased its minimum tariff from Rs99 to Rs155 in multiple circles which should have impacted active subs growth.
  • VIL’s active subs dipped 0.9mn (down by an average of 0.7mn per month in the past six months) to 207mn in Apr’23. Total subs reduced by 3mn.
  • RJio’s active sub market share rose 29bps MoM to 39.2%; Bharti’s stood at 35.7% (flattish MoM) while VIL’s fell 16bps MoM to 19.9%.

Industry-wide MBB (mobile broadband) subs rose 4.1mn

  • Industry-wide MBB subs stood at 816mn, up 4.1mn, in Apr’23 (up 0.8% MoM / 6.9% YoY) vs past six months’ average net add of 4.7mn MBB subs.
  • Bharti’s MBB sub base grew 2.3mn to 238mn, which will aid premiumisation, benefited by rural expansion. It will help sustain decent ARPU growth in the absence of tariff hike.
  • RJio’s MBB sub base rose 3mn to 433mn. Adjusted for inactive subs, its MBB market share stood at 51.5% (up 22bps MoM). Bharti’s MBB market share was 30.1% (up 8bps MoM) and VIL’s was 15.6% (down 27bps MoM).
  • VIL’s MBB sub base dipped 1.3mn in Apr’23 to 124mn, it underperformed peers.

Wired broadband sub stable for RJio / Bharti

  • Wired broadband sub base rose 0.4mn MoM to 33.9mn (up 2% MoM / 22.9% YoY) in Apr’23. Bharti added 0.13mn subs (vs 0.14mn per month in the past six months), and RJio added 0.32mn (vs 0.25mn per month in the past six months). Other operators’ sub base dipped 0.08mn to 14.2mn. RJio benefited from introduction of backup plan for Rs198/month.
  • RJio’s market share rose to 25.5% (up 65bps MoM) and that for Bharti increased to 18.4% (up 17bps MoM). BSNL’s sub base expanded by 0.03mn and its market share dipped 4bps MoM to 10.7%.

Industry-wide MNP churn dipped slightly

  • Industry-wide porting was 11mn (down 6.4% MoM) in Apr’23. MNP churn rate was 1% (vs 1% in Mar’23 and earlier 0.7%).

For report,

CT Bureau

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