The third quarter of 2021 ended with Jio cleaning up its inactive wireless subscriber base in September with the deactivation of over 19 million subscribers. Airtel was the only operator to report a positive subscriber growth in the last month of the third quarter. In the wireline segment, Jio continues to bolster its position, the operator even stole a march on Airtel to replace it as the second-largest wired broadband operator in India after BSNL.
The overall wireless subscriber base decreased sharply by 20.7 million from 1186.72 million at the end of August to 1166.02 million at the end of September 2021. The overall wireline subscriber base increased marginally by 0.27 million from 22.86 million at the end of August to 23.13 million at the end of September 2021.
As of 30th September 2021, Reliance Jio is leading with 36.43% wireless subscriber market share which translates to 424.84 million subscribers, Bharti Airtel is at second position with 30.40% market share (354.47 million subscribers), whereas Vodafone Idea comes third with 23.15% market share (269.99 million subscribers). BSNL commands 9.73% (113.45 million) while MTNL commands just 0.28% market share (3.27 million).
Wireless Subscriber Gain/Loss in September:
Reliance Jio for the first time since its launch reported a gross loss of 19 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 2.7 lakh wireless subscribers. Vodafone Idea continued its subscriber loss streak with a 1 million net loss in September. BSNL lost over 0.8 million wireless subscribers while MTNL lost over 4.4 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 nearly 98% and has the lowest inactive user base of 7.59 million, it is followed by Vodafone Idea with a score of over 87% (inactive user base 34.26 million). Reliance Jio has a VLR score of nearly 84% (inactive user base 69.47 million), whereas BSNL lags behind with a score of just over 50% (inactive user base 56.37 million) and MTNL finishes last with a VLR score of nearly 19% (inactive user base 2.66 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 33.85% share of the wireline subscriber market share in September 2021, which translates to 7.82 million subscribers. Bharti Airtel at the second spot commands a 22.91% share (5.29 million subscribers). Reliance Jio has jumped up to the third position with a 20.08% market share (4.64 million). MTNL follows at the fourth spot with a 12.12% share (2.8 million subscribers). Vodafone Idea holds only 2.45% share (0.56 million subscribers).
Wireline Subscriber Gain/Loss in September:
Reliance Jio added over 2.3 lakh new wireline connections in September 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel who added over 1.2 lakh new connections. Vodafone Idea added 3.1 thousand wireline connections whereas MTNL lost over 21 thousand. BSNL continued the trend of losing subscribers with the loss of over 67 thousand connections in September.
Broadband is considered when the speed offered is higher than 512 Kbps irrespective of it being a wired or wireless connection. As on 30th September 2021, the top five Wired Broadband Service providers by subscriber base were BSNL (5.05 million), Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (3.94 million), Bharti Airtel (3.85 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (1.96 million), and Hathway Cable & Datacom (1.08 million). The top five Wireless Broadband Service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (424.84 million), Bharti Airtel (203.45 million), Vodafone Idea (122.36 million), BSNL (19.1 million) and Tikona Infinet (0.32 million).