NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is now the number one telecom operator in India by both subscriber base as well as revenue market share, achieving the feat in just more than three years of starting operations.
The company led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani added 5.6 million mobile subscribers in November, taking its total user base to 369.93 million, and replacing Vodafone Idea Ltd as the India’s largest mobile services provider by subscribers, showed data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday.
With this, Jio holds a 32.04% share in the more than 1.15-billion-user Indian mobile services market. It had a 30.79% market share at the end of October. Unlike its rivals, Jio’s user base comprises entirely of 4G subscribers.
To be sure, the company had already become number one in terms of revenue market share last year when it grabbed 31.7% share of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) that the industry recorded in the April-June period.
The subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd entered the telecom sector in September 2016 with cheap data plans and handsets, which led to an unprecedented rise in mobile data consumption, with an average user consuming 11 gigabytes of data per month.
In the subsequent disruption, half a dozen companies either shut shop or were acquired by bigger companies. Reliance Communications and Aircel filed for bankruptcy, while Airtel acquired Telenor India and Tata’s consumer mobility business.
As the dust settled, the domestic telecom market has now become largely a three-way tussle between Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone Idea and Jio.
While the telecom industry witnessed shrinking revenue streams, bankruptcy and, finally, consolidation, the last three years have been monumental as 4G coverage soared and became a catalyst for the growth of mobile data and new applications and services, especially in the content ecosystem.
Bharti Airtel, which has battled Jio’s aggressive tariffs, too posted an increase in market share in November, adding 1.65 million users to end with 327.30 million users and a 28.35% market share.
India’s mobile user base however fell by 28.81 million subscribers in November as the increase in the subscriber base at Jio and Bharti Airtel failed to compensate for the subscriber losses at Vodafone Idea.
This was the biggest decline since April 2018 when the user base fell by 58 million.
Vodafone Idea lost a record 36.41 million users in November, ending with a 29.12% market share or 336.25 million subscribers. In October, the company had added 189,901 subscribers.
Excluding October, Vodafone Idea has lost subscribers each month after it started operating as a new entity after the merger of Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd in September 2018.
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd too increased its market share to 10.19% from 9.92% at the end of October, adding 341,722 users to end November with 117.68 million users.
The total wireless subscriber base of 1.15 billion comprised 979.09 million active users in November. The proportion of active users was around 84.8% of the total wireless subscriber base.
The wireless teledensity in India fell from 89.55 at the end of October to 87.29 at the end of November. The urban wireless teledensity fell from 156.83 at the end of October to 152.92 at the end of November, and rural wireless teledensity declined from 57.91 to 56.40 in the same period.