ICRA: Wireless Subscriber Base Declines By 21.9 Million In March As Telcos Focus On ARPU Improvement

Posted by ICRA

The wireless subscriber base in the country reduced to 1,162 million in March 2019, witnessing a decline of 21.9 million subscribers over the previous month; while the active wireless subscriber base remained largely steady at 1,022 million as against 1,023 Million in February. Further, the wireless broadband subscriber base maintained robust growth momentum, witnessing a growth of 2% during the month of March 2019.

Says Mr. Harsh Jagnani, Sector Head & Vice President- Corporate Ratings, ICRA, “The decline in total subscriber base in March was largely on account of major telcos introducing minimum recharge plans over the last few months. This was done in a bid to wean out low revenue generating subscribers and thus improve ARPU levels as well as profitability, which have been under consistent pressure over the last couple of years. This decline in subscribers is not expected to materially impact the industry revenue potential.”

RJio was the only telco to gain subscribers in March, as it added 9.5 million users to its network, thereby taking its total subscriber base past 300 million and further consolidating its position in the industry. In terms of active subscribers as well, RJio was the biggest gainer, adding 8.0 million active subscribers, followed by BSNL/MTNL which added 0.5 million. With healthy addition to active subscriber base, RJio’s active subscriber market share has strengthened to 25.2% in March 2019 (24.4% in February 2019). Vodafone-Idea continues to lead the market with 36.0% market share (36.9% in February 2019), followed by Bharti, whose market share remained steady at 32.1%.

The wireless broadband subscriber base continues to maintain its robust growth momentum, increasing to 544.9 million in March 2019 or 47% of the total subscriber base, witnessing addition of 12.9 million during the month. RJio leads the wireless broadband market, with market share of 56%, followed by Bharti at 21% and Vodafone-Idea at 20%. For RJio, 100% of its subscribers are broadband subscribers, while the same ratio for Bharti stood at 35% and for Vodafone-Idea stood at 28%.―CT Bureau

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