After 15 Months, Vodafone Idea Finally Breaks Out Of Subscriber Dry Spell!

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Vodafone Idea has finally broken its streak of bad luck!

For the first time since October 2019, Vodafone Idea has added wireless customers to its network as per the newly released data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, aka TRAI.

In February 2021, Vodafone Idea gained a whopping 652,625 new subscribers, after losing over 90 million customers during the course of the past 15 months. The wireless subscriber base of Vodafone Idea declined from 372,676,689 in October 2019 to 281,972,180 in January 2021. The telecom provider took a sigh of relief when in February, their subscribers count increased 0.7 million M-o-M to 282,624,805.

TRAI’s data showed that Reliance Jio led the gains as the Ambani-owned telecom provider added more subscribers than Bharati Airtel Ltd. for the first time since July 2020.

Reliance Jio gained a whopping 4.3 million new subscribers in February, whereas Airtel roped in close to 3.7 million new customers during the same month.

Interestingly, note here that even though Vodafone Idea added new subscribers in February, its market share shrunk marginally to 24.20%, from 24.32% in January. On the other hand, Airtel’s market share increased to 29.83% in February from 29.72% in January. Currently, Reliance Jio remains India’s largest telecom provider with 35.54% market share.

India has currently 1,167.71 million wireless subscribers, an increase of 0.72% month-over-month.

After news broke about the end of Vodafone Idea’s subscriber dry spell, its share price hit a day’s high of 13% yesterday, whilst Airtel’s shares were down by nearly 1%. And, Jio’s parent company Reliance Industries’s share price was also down by almost 1%.

In a statement about wireless growth, TRAI mentioned that all service areas excluding Bihar and Himachal Pradesh witness growth in subscribers during February. Mumbai stood out as it especially showed maximum growth of 4.83% in its wireless subscriber base during the month.

The data released by TRAI also showed that Reliance Jio’s active subscriber base was the lowest among the top 3 telcos despite it having the highest market share in the wireless segment. Of their total customer base, Jio’s active subscribers were at 78.16% as of 28 February, whereas Vodafone Idea’s active subscriber base stood at 90.61%, and Airtel’s stood at 97.47%.

At the end of February 2021, Jio continued to lead the wireless and mobile broadband segment with 415 million subscribers, whereas Airtel remained at a distant second with 185.2 million customers. Vodafone Idea had 123.3 million mobile broadband subscribers, whereas the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. or BSNL’s users in the same segment shrunk to 18.6 million from 18.9 million in the month of January.

Mobile broadband users are classified as those who use the internet with download speeds equal to or more than 512 KBPS (kilobytes per second), implying that all customers who are using 3G/4G fall under this category. Reliance Jio provides only 4G services. Therefore all of its customers, by default, are on mobile broadband.

Lastly, when it comes to the wired or fixed-line segment, the total subscriber count increased from 20.08 million as of 31 January to 20.19 million at the end of February. Out of this, BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., aka MTNL, together held a whopping 48.23% market share. After that, Airtel held the second-highest market share at 23.3%, and Reliance Jio came in third with 15.6%.

Reliance Jio has been aggressively adding new customers to the wired segment by leveraging its cheaper plans introduced in August 2020. It added close to 197,130 customers in February, whereas Airtel gained 61,048 users during the same month. It is also important to note here that both BSNL and MTNL had to let go of 141,648 and 18,802 fixed-line customers, respectively, during the same period.

We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.


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