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India’s active mobile subscriber base drops to 1 B due to loss in RCom connections: TRAI

Sohini Mitter
15th Jan 2018
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Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and Reliance Jio now account for 81 percent of mobile connections.

India’s telecom subscriber base registered a monthly drop of 1.32 percent to reach 1,185.88 million connections at the end of November 2017, latest data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) reveals. Wireless, i.e. mobile connections stood at 1,162.47 million, out of which 1,006.3 million were active subscribers.

Much of the drop in active mobile connections was due to the loss of Reliance Communications’ near-30 million subscribers, i.e. 65 percent of its active connections. Debt-ridden RCom had announced the shutting down of its voice operations early November.

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In terms of demographic spread, there were 664.94 million mobile subscribers in urban areas, while rural areas accounted for 497.53 million connections. Urban connections declined 1.86 percent, while rural subscriptions dropped 0.86 percent. 

The top four — Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance Jio — now account for 81 percent of India’s active mobile subscriber base. Idea has the maximum number of active connections at over 102 percent. This figure is more than 100 percent because it takes into account subscribers from other telcos roaming within the Idea network. Idea had 198.86 million active subscribers.

Airtel and Vodafone’s active connections stood at 99.23 percent (287.3 million) and 94.87 percent (200.2 million) respectively. Jio, which is the fourth-largest operator in subscriber terms, had 81.45 percent (123.86 million) active connections.

“As on November 30, 2017, the private access service providers held 90.44 percent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 9.56 percent,” TRAI stated.

In absolute terms, Jio added 6.1 million connections in the month, while Airtel and Idea added 4.3 million and three million respectively. In terms of market share, Airtel continued to lead with 24.91 percent, while Vodafone, Idea and Jio grabbed 18.15 percent, 16.69 percent and 13.08 percent respectively.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) requests for the month reached 15.99 million. “With this, the cumulative MNP requests increased from 314.99 million at the end of October 17 to 330.98 million at the end of November 17,” TRAI declared.

India, meanwhile, continues to be the world’s second-largest telecom market after China. More than one billion of its 1.3 billion people are on cellular networks. 

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