Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is now by both subscriber base as well as revenue market share the number one telecom operator in India, achieving the feat in just over three years of start-up operations.
The company led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani added 5.6 million mobile subscribers in November, bringing its total user base to 369.93 million, and replacing Vodafone Idea Ltd as India’s largest mobile service provider with subscribers, data released by India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (Trai) on Thursday showed.
With this, Jio has a 32.04 percent share of India’s mobile services market, which has more than 1.15 billion subscribers. It had a market share of 30,79 percent at the end of October. Jio’s user base, unlike its rivals, consists entirely of 4 G subscribers.
To be sure, the company had already become number one in terms of revenue market share last year, when it captured 31.7 percent of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) recorded by the industry in the period April-June.
In September 2016, Reliance Industries Ltd’s subsidiary entered the telecom sector with cheap data plans and handsets which resulted in an unprecedented increase in mobile data consumption, with an average user consuming 11 gigabytes of data per month.
Half a dozen firms either shut down shop or were bought by bigger companies in the ensuing chaos. Reliance Communications and Aircel filed for bankruptcy while Airtel bought a consumer broadband company from Telenor India and Tata.
The domestic telecom market has now largely become a three-way tussle between Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone Idea and Jio, as the dust settled.
While the telecom industry experienced declining revenue streams, recession and, inevitably, restructuring, the last three years were monumental as 4 G penetration exploded and became a catalyst for mobile data growth and new applications and services, particularly in the content ecosystem.
Bharti Airtel, which fought Jio’s high tariffs, also reported a rise in market share in November, adding 1.65 million subscribers to end with 327.30 million users and a market share of 28.35 percent.
Nonetheless, India’s mobile user base dropped by 28.81 million subscribers in November, as the rise in Jio and Bharti Airtel’s subscriber base did not compensate for Vodafone Idea’s subscriber losses.
This was the first fall since April 2018 when the user base fell 58 million times.
In November, Vodafone Idea lost a record 36.41 million customers, finishing with a market share of 29.12 percent or 336.25 million subscribers. The business had reached 189,901 subscribers in October.
Excluding October, following the merger of Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd in September 2018, Vodafone Idea has lost subscribers every month after it began operating as a new entity.
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd also increased its market share from 9.92 percent at the end of October to 10.19 percent, adding 341,722 users with 117.68 million users at the end of November.
In November, 979.09 million active users constituted the total wireless subscriber base of 1.15 billion. Active users accounted for about 84.8 percent of the total wireless subscriber base.
In India, wireless teledensity fell from 89.55 in late October to 87.29 at the end of November. The urban wireless teledensity decreased from 156.83 at the end of October to 152.92 at the end of November and rural wireless teledensity declined from 57.91 to 56.40 at the same time.