Bharti Airtel added over 300 percent more wireless subscribers than Reliance Jio in January 2021, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data. The monthly data released by the regulator shows that the New Delhi-headquartered Airtel added more than 5.89 million wireless subscribers during the month, whereas the Mumbai-based Jio added over 1.95 million new wireless subscribers. Jio, however, continued to lead the telecom sector with the largest wireless subscriber base in the country.
Airtel leads the monthly growth rate chart with a 1.74 percent growth recorded in January, while Jio registered a 0.48 percent growth. Similarly, on the part of active wireless subscribers that can be suggested by the Visitor Local Register (VLR) data, Airtel continued to take on Jio in January for the second time in a row and took the lead with its 335.77 million VLR subscribers. Jio, however, had 324.52 million VLR subscribers in January. VLR is the database that stores information about users roaming in a particular network. A user can be present in only one VLR at any given point of time. Thus, this is a better approximation of the number of active users that are currently in the network.
Unlike Airtel and Jio, Vodafone Idea (Vi) saw a dip of 2.28 million wireless subscribers in January. The operator had a total base of over 281.97 million wireless subscribers, as per the TRAI data. State-owned BSNL, on the other hand, added 81,659 wireless subscribers during the month of January that helped it reach a total wireless subscriber base of 118.69 million.
Vi’s market share declined to 24.32 percent in January from 24.64 percent in December. BSNL also saw a slight dip in its market share to 10.25 percent from 10.29 percent in the previous month.
The TRAI data also highlighted that the total wireless subscriber base in the country increased to 1,159.42 million in January from 1,153.77 million in December, registering a monthly growth rate of 0.49 percent. Wireless subscription in urban areas increased to 633.27 million in January from 629.67 million in December, while in rural areas the base of wireless telecom subscribers increased to 526.15 million from 524.11 million.
Similar to the growth in total wireless subscriber base, wireless tele-density in the country also increased to 85.24 percent at the end of January from 84.90 in December.
The data released by TRAI also shows that telecom operators received a total of 7.63 million requests for mobile number portability (MNP) in January. The highest number of MNP requests were received from Karnataka at 47 million. It was followed by Maharashtra where 44.94 million MNP requests were raised by subscribers.
In terms of broadband service providers, Jio maintained its lead at 412.98 million subscribers (including both fixed and wireless broadband, which include 4G SIM cards) in January, followed by Airtel at 184.64 million, Vi at 122.72 million, BSNL at 26.67 million, and ACT Fibernet at 1.80 million. The TRAI data specified that the top five service providers constituted 98.84 percent market share at the end of January.
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Editor’s note: Figures for Vodafone India were revised in this article after TRAI issued a corrigendum.