Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. was the biggest gainer of subscriber churn so far this fiscal even as the industry’s user base contracted on falling income and higher tariffs during the pandemic.
Gross wireless telecom users of India’s wireless telecom industry fell 2.63 crore in the nine months ended December, according to latest available data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. That’s a 2.23% decline in gross subscribers to 115.46 crore.
The number of active or regularly paying users, however, rose 0.67% to 100.06 crore during the period.
Reliance Jio gained most active subscribers even as it lost gross users. Bharti Airtel Ltd. added gross and active users, while Vodafone Idea Ltd. saw erosion in both the categories.
The churn reflects users cutting down multiple connections and regularly recharging the remaining plans. That came as the pandemic hurt incomes of low-cost mobile users and operators increased prices by doing away with cheapest plans. ICICI Securities cited Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea’s fewer upgrades of 2G to 4G on account of lower smartphone sales as the reason for the churn.
Reliance Jio remains India’s largest wireless carrier by gross and active users. Vodafone Idea’s share in gross and active users fell most.
Circle-wise gross subscribers
- The industry added gross users in three circles—West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (W)—and lost in 19 in the nine months ended December.
- Airtel gained and lost gross subscribers in 11 circles each.
- It added most gross users in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra but lost in Mumbai and Rajasthan. Vodafone Idea Vi lost subscribers in 20 circles and added in two.
- Vi lost subscribers in 20 circles and added in two.
- It gained users in Mumbai and Punjab, and lost the most in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (East).
- Reliance Jio lost users in 15 and gained in seven.
- Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (East) contributed the most to Reliance Jio’s gross user addition, while it lost most subscribers in Mumbai and Andhra Pradesh.
Circle-wise active subscribers
- The industry active subscribers rose in the nine months ended December, indicating improvement in the quality of users.
- The telecom industry gained active subscribers in 18 circles and lost subscribers in four: Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh (West), Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal.
- Reliance Jio’s share in active users expanded 304 basis points, the most among peers.
- The operator gained subscribers in all 22 circles.
- The biggest addition came in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- Vi lost active subscribers in all 22 circles.
- It saw the biggest erosion in Maharashtra and West Bengal.
- The carrier gained subscribers in 13 circles and lost subscribers in nine.
- The biggest addition came in Maharashtra, and it lost the most active users in Bihar.