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Reliance Jio Subscribers Decline By More Than 3.6 Mn, Bharti Airtel on rise

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently disclosed new telecom subscription data, which revealed a sharp drop in Reliance Jio’s subscriber numbers. In February 2022, Jio’s customer base declined by more than 3.6 million, or 2.49 percent of its total user base.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel’s total subscriber base increased by over 1.5 million throughout the month, representing a 0.49 percent increase. Vi, on the other hand, lost over 1.5 million customers in February, or 0.58 percent of its total user base.

In February, the overall number of wireless customers in the country fell by more than 3 million, to 1,166 million, compared to January of this year.

Only three states accounted for all new subscribers in February: Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Haryana. During the month, the rest of the states reported a decrease in wireless customers.

The survey also revealed the country’s average 4G download speeds. Jio retained its top position with a speed of 21.1 megabit per second (Mbps). Vi and Airtel came in second and third, with speeds of 17.9 Mbps and 13.7 Mbps, respectively.

At the end of February this year, the country’s overall tele-density had dropped to 84.88 percent. At the end of January 2022, the figure was 85.19 percent. The urban tele-density fell from 135.83 percent in January to 135.28 percent in February. At the end of February, rural tele-density had dropped from 58.13 percent to 57.91 percent.’

For the past few months, Jio’s subscriber numbers have been declining. It lost more than 9.32 million members in January of this year.

Jio had lost more than 12 million members by December 2021. Its biggest dip occurred in September of last year, when it lost almost 19 million members.

Since introducing a pricing hike in December of last year, Jio has struggled to retain subscribers. While the 21% pricing hike weeded out low-paying customers, it appears to have set off a domino effect, with more than 24 million users leaving the telco between December and February.

Airtel, in particular, has been functioning admirably. In January, it recruited more than 1.2 million members, while in December, it added 0.47 million wireless users. Despite the industry’s overall downturn, this is the case.

Despite a recent drop in subscriber numbers, Jio maintains its market dominance with a 35.28 percent market share, followed by Airtel with 31.37 percent and Vi with 23.09 percent.

Jio and Airtel, the two leading firms, have been fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat in a highly competitive and concentrated business. Because a lower subscriber count can be offset by a higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), telcos focus on high-paying customers to increase revenue.

Airtel’s ARPU in the October-December quarter was INR 163, whereas Jio’s ARPU in Q3 FY22 was INR 151.6.

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