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Telecom subscriber base rises by 5.6 mn in March 2024, led by Jio, Airtel

Reliance Jio clocked in 3.6 million new subscribers and Bharti Airtel added 2.8 million subscribers in March 2024, while Vodafone Idea loss 0.6 million


Telecom industry

Vasudha Mukherjee New Delhi

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The Indian telecom sector saw a significant surge in active subscribers in March 2024, with the total base rising by 5.6 million, marking the highest monthly additions in a year, according to an analysis by Jefferies.

Leading the charge were telecom giants Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, contributing 3.6 million and 2.8 million new active subscribers, respectively.

However, Vodafone Idea (Vi) faced continued losses, shedding 0.6 million subscribers, losing active subscribers for the fourth consecutive month

Jio surpassed Airtel in active subscriber additions after trailing for the past three months.

This boost in active subscribers is a positive development for Airtel, particularly in the wireless broadband (BB) segment, where it gained market share, indicating a promising outlook for its average revenue per user (ARPU).

The rise in active subscribers was primarily observed in B-Circles (4.8 million) and C-Circles (2.3 million), while metros and A Circles saw declines. Metros dropped around one million active subscribers and A-Circles reported 500,000 in subscriber losses.

In terms of reported subscriber base, the sector witnessed an increase for the 11th consecutive month, with 0.8 million net additions. Jio and Airtel led this growth, adding 2.1 million and 1.8 million subscribers, respectively, while Vi continued to face losses.

Wireless broadband subscribers also saw a pick-up in March 2024, with additions reaching 6.7 million, driven by Airtel and Jio. Airtel’s focus on higher-quality subscribers and Jio’s traction with its Jio Bharat initiative contributed to this growth. Vi, despite its challenges, managed to add 1.1 million wireless BB subscribers during the month.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) requests remained high, indicating intense competition and a focus on market share gains. The rise in MNP requests is expected to continue, driven partly by Vi users switching to Airtel or Jio for 5G services. This heightened competition is likely to keep churn rates elevated and lead to increased sales and marketing costs for telecom operators.

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First Published: May 06 2024 | 7:14 PM IST

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