Amid the ongoing SIM consolidation due to the December tariff hikes, Reliance Jio is turning out to be the biggest beneficiary as the telco has been consistently adding active subscribers despite losing wireless customers on net basis. On the back of a healthy 10.1 million active subscriber additions in February, the company’s active subscriber ratio improved to 94%, while its market share increased to 37.3% from 36.6% in January.
Even though Bharti Airtel has also added 1.2 million active subscribers during the month, its active subscriber market share declined marginally to 34.6% from 34.8% in January because of Jio’s additions. Vodafone Idea continues to lose active subscribers as well as overall wireless users. As on February, Vodafone Idea’s active subscriber market share declined to 22.2% against 22.7% in January.
As per data shared by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the total wireless subscriber base declined to 1141.53 million at the end of February against 1145.24 million at the end of January. The decline in gross wireless subscriber base for the industry continued for the third consecutive month in February as the industry continues to witness a consolidation in SIM cards. The number of active subscribers, however, grew 9.5 million to 1,016 million. As per analysts, the steady increase in active subscriber additions in January and February indicate acceptance of tariff hikes by the market, as mobile is an essential service.
The decline in the overall wireless subscriber base is primarily because of weeding out of non-active users from the network. As per Jefferies, since June 2021, while Jio has added 38 million active subscribers, it has also de-recognised 72 million inactive subscribers, due to which its share of active subscribers has increased to 94%. With mere 24 million more inactive subscribers left in the base, further subscriber clean-up is unlikely for much longer. For Jio, active subscriber additions were driven by B-Circles that accounted for over 50% of subscriber additions.
When it comes to wireless broadband, Bharti Airtel was the biggest gainer during February. Airtel saw the highest addition of 2.3 million wireless broadband subscribers, while Vodafone Idea managed to gain 0.9 million. Jio lost another 3.7 million broadband subscribers, down for the third consecutive month. In wireline broadband subscribers, Jio consolidated its position at the top, adding 200,000 subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel at 100,000.