The fourth quarter of 2021 ended with Jio cleaning up its inactive wireless subscriber base in December with the deactivation of nearly 13 million subscribers, a trend that Jio began from last quarter, perhaps in an attempt to boost its ARPU figures in the quarterly report. Airtel and BSNL were the only operators to report a positive subscriber growth in the last month of the fourth quarter. In the wired broadband segment, Jio retained its lead, while Airtel stole a march over BSNL to become the second-largest operator by subscriber base.
The overall wireless subscriber base decreased sharply by 12.88 million from 1167.50 million at the end of November to 1154.62 million at the end of December 2021. The overall wireline subscriber base increased marginally by 0.24 million from 23.55 million at the end of November to 23.79 million at the end of November 2021.
As of 31st December 2021, Reliance Jio is leading with 36% wireless subscriber market share which translates to 415.72 million subscribers, Bharti Airtel is at second position with 30.81% market share (355.77 million subscribers), whereas Vodafone Idea comes third with 23% market share (265.51 million subscribers). BSNL commands 9.9% (114.36 million) while MTNL commands just 0.28% market share (3.26 million).
Wireless Subscriber Gain/Loss in December:
Reliance Jio reported a gross loss of 13 million subscribers which hints that the operator is deactivating inactive subscribers in an attempt to improve its VLR and ARPU figures, Bharti Airtel added over 4.7 lakh wireless subscribers. Vodafone Idea continued its subscriber loss streak with a 1.6 million net loss in December. BSNL added over 1.1 million wireless subscribers while MTNL lost over 3.5 thousand.
Active subscriber base, VLR data:
Visitor location register (VLR) is an indicator of what percentage of the total subscriber base is comprised of active users. Bharti Airtel leads the race with a VLR score of 98% and has the lowest inactive user base of 7.08 million, it is followed by Reliance Jio with a score of over 87% (inactive user base 51.38 million). Vodafone Idea has a VLR score of over 86% (inactive user base 36.06 million), whereas BSNL lags behind with a score of just over 50% (inactive user base 56.81 million) and MTNL finishes last with a VLR score of over 18% (inactive user base 2.65 million).
Private operators (read Jio and Airtel) continued to reclaim the market dominance in this segment from PSU operator BSNL which had for long enjoyed the supreme position due to lack of competition from private operators. BSNL continues to lead with a 31.92% share of the wireline subscriber market share in December 2021, which translates to 7.59 million subscribers. Bharti Airtel at the second spot commands a 23.46% share (5.58 million subscribers). Reliance Jio retains the third position with a 22.42% market share (5.33 million). MTNL follows at the fourth spot with a 11.58% share (2.75 million subscribers). Tata Tele holds 6.71% share (1.59 million subscribers).
Wireline Subscriber Gain/Loss in December:
Reliance Jio added over 2.5 lakh new wireline connections in September 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel who added over 64 thousand new connections. Tata Tele added over 5 thousand wireline connections whereas MTNL lost over 29 thousand. BSNL continued the trend of losing subscribers with the loss of over 54 thousand connections in December.
Broadband is considered when the speed offered is higher than 512 Kbps irrespective of it being a wired or wireless connection. As on 31st December 2021, the top five Wired Broadband Service providers by subscriber base were Reliance Jio (4.57 million), Bharti Airtel (4.2 million), BSNL (4.07 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (2.01 million), and Hathway Cable & Datacom (1.08 million). The top five Wireless Broadband Service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (415.72 million), Bharti Airtel (205.87 million), Vodafone Idea (122.14 million), BSNL (21.47 million) and Intech Online (0.2 million).