Reliance Jio Adds Most Subscribers In March Even As Rivals Close In

Reliance Jio continues to add subscribers amid an intensifying tariff war.

A customer provides a finger print scan while connecting a mobile phone to the carrier Reliance Jio. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)
A customer provides a finger print scan while connecting a mobile phone to the carrier Reliance Jio. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. added the highest number of subscribers in March amid an intensifying tariff war in India’s stressed telecom sector even as its rivals added users at a brisk pace on the back of new plans.

The Mukesh Ambani-led operator added over 94 lakh subscribers, according to a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India release. Rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. were close to follow at monthly subscriber additions of 84 lakh and over 91 lakh, respectively. Vodafone India added a little over 56 lakh subscribers.

Total wireless subscribers increased to over 118.3 crore in March from 115.6 crore users in February.

Jio’s user additions were fuelled by sales of its “effectively free” 4G-enabled JioPhone which has become the country’s most-selling feature phone. Morgan Stanley had estimated the momentum of user addition will continue over the next few months due to the JioPhone.

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Idea Cellular’s subscriber base is likely to have expanded faster than Airtel after the operator introduced new lower-priced plans offering more data. Its merger with Vodafone India is now nearing closure after it announced the proposed leadership team for the combined entity. Idea now has 17.8 percent market share with 21.1 crore users. Vodafone India, on the other hand, has 22.2 crore subscribers with 18.7 percent share.

Airtel continues to lead the Indian telecom market with 25.7 percent share and 30.2 crore subscribers. Jio now has a 15.7 percent share in the sector with 18.5 crore subscribers.

A little less than 86 percent of Reliance Jio’s subscribers are active on the network. That is still lower than the industry average. The number of active users, however, has been on an upswing.

During March, service areas in Assam showed a maximum growth rate of 7.3 percent in wireless subscribers. Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir followed, with 7.2 percent and 4.9 percent growth respectively.

Intra-service mobile number portability requests also increased, with more than 1.9 crore requests received in the month. In the year so far, highest number of requests have been received in Karnataka, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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