India’s mobile phone subscriber base registered a drop of 2.8 million in September, according to latest TRAI data. That is a 0.24 percent decrease to 1.18 billion subscribers. Out of that, active mobile connections were 1.02 billion. Mobile connections per 100 people, or the tele-density of wireless subscribers, stood at 91.56 as of September 30. And urban areas led mobile tele-density with 168.20 compared to rural areas at 56.31, the data revealed. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
While it is not clear as to why the subscriptions dropped, September saw heavy mobile number portability with 5.49 million subscribers opting to change their cellular service providers. TRAI noted that the “cumulative requests” for MNP crossed 300 million this year. Also Read - Airtel Rs 456 vs Jio Rs 447 prepaid plan: Check validity, data, voice calls, and other benefits
India is divided into 22 telecom service zones that are serviced by ten telcos. Bharti Airtel continued to lead the market in terms of subscribers that stood at 282 million at the end of September. Vodafone and Idea completed the top three with 207.4 million and 190.2 million respectively. Also Read - Jio Freedom Plans 2021: Jio launches 5 new prepaid plans with no daily data limit - check details
Reliance Jio, the country’s fastest-growing cellular network, had 138.6 million subscribers, while state-owned BSNL crossed 105 million users. Jio’s unprecedented growth in the last one year has led to consolidation in the telecom industry. But as tariffs stabilize and Jio faces competition from other networks (that have started to play the low-balling game) its growth rate is slightly waning.
As of September, the “private access service providers” held 90.75 percent market share among wireless subscribers, PSU service providers, BSNL and MTNL, had a share of only 9.25 percent. The rest of the telcos viz. Tata Teleservices (which is now merging with Airtel), Reliance Communications, Aircel and Telenor put together accounted for 252 million subscriptions. It can be safely assumed that a majority of these connections would port to the top three or four networks in the coming months.
The number of fixed-phone line subscribers also dropped to 23.7 million by end-September from 23.8 million a month ago. This too could accelerate going ahead as easy availability of smartphones and attractive tariffs are compelling users to ditch wired lines in favor of cell phone connections. Overall, India had 1.21 billion (wireless and wired) subscribers — the second-largest in the world.