Reliance Jio added the highest number of mobile subscribers in the month of March as tariff war with incumbent players gets intense in India’s highly competitive telecom market. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Jio added over 9.4 million subscribers which was considerably higher than its closest rivals.
In comparison, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular added over 8.4 million and 9.1 million subscribers respectively during the month of March. Vodafone India, the second largest telecom players was fourth with little over 5.6 million subscribers added in March. Reliance Jio’s subscriber addition could have been fueled by the distribution of JioPhone, which has become the best-selling feature phone in the Indian market. According to Counterpoint Research, India’s feature phone market doubled in first quarter and Jio had a market share of 35.8 percent.
Idea Cellular, on the other hand, added new subscribers faster than Bharti Airtel, on the back of new tariff plans offering more data. At the end of March, Bharti Airtel was the leader in the wireless segment a market share of 25.7 percent. It was followed by Vodafone India and Idea with a market share of 18.82 percent and 17.85 percent respectively.
Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are in the process of merging their telecom operations which will create the new market leader. Reliance Jio continues to remain in the fourth place with a market share of 15.76 percent. The fifth spot was taken by state-owned telecom player BSNL with a market share of 9.44 percent.
The total wireless subscriber base increased to over 1,183.41 million users in March from 1,156.87 million users in February. The net addition in the month of March came in at 26.54 million users, translating to a monthly growth rate of 2.29 percent. The total telecom subscription including both wireline and wireless subscribers stands at 1,206.22 million, a growth of 2.24 percent from February. Trai says 19.67 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the month of March 2018.
Watch: Reliance JioPhone First Look
While the top five telecom players added new subscribers during the month of March, others saw contraction in their user base. Reliance Communications, Telenor, Tata Communications and Aircel, all saw their user base shrink due to volatility and consolidation happening in the telecom market. Trai’s data also reveals that wireline subcriber base further declined from 22.97 million at the end of February to 22.81 million at the end of March. This further illustrates the move from wireline to wireless among India’s digital user base.