Airtel widens lead over Jio in active user additions in JanuaryKolkata: Bharti Airtel has once again stolen a march over Reliance Jio in terms of active users’ market share in January, consolidating its leadership on this metric, helped by strong 4G user gains, and signalling that it’s edging ahead of the telecom market leader in the fight for struggling Vodafone Idea’s customers.

Airtel added 6.9 million active users, taking its active user share to 34.3% and its active user base to 336 million in January, driven by strong mobile broadband user gains. By contrast, Jio lost 3.5 million active users –– its largest loss in the past nine months — dragging its overall active users base down to 325 million and its active user share also slipping to 33.2%.

Accordingly, Sunil Mittal-led Airtel has retained its leadership position in terms of actual number of active users, pushing Jio to the second spot on this score.

Loss-making Vi, which added gross users for the first time in 15 months in January, reported a slowdown in its fall of active users at 0.3 million, indicating a potential bottoming of subscriber churn.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) active or `visitor location register’ (VLR) data, is a key metric that reflects the actual number of customers actively using a mobile network. The latest VLR ratio showed that 97.44% of Airtel’s users were active, while the numbers were much lower at 89.63% for Vi and 79.01% for Jio.

“Bharti is widening its lead in VLR subscribers market share against Jio, which explains the telecom market leader’s renewed aggression to push its mass-market VoLTE device, the JioPhone,” ICICI Securities said, analysing latest customer data put out by the telecom regulator.

Last month, Jio launched two aggressive offerings on its 4G feature phone that are aimed to arrest the sharp slide in Jio’s 4G user adds in recent quarters, especially as rival Airtel has been gaining far higher numbers of mobile broadband users.JM Financial said with the sharp fall in Jio’s active (VLR) user base in January, “all eyes will now be on the new JioPhone plans to revive momentum, which may be followed by the launch of the much awaited budget smartphone with Google”.

Kotak Securities said in the past six months, Airtel’s wireless users market share has risen by 1.7 ppt to 29.6% and Jio’s by a tiny 0.3 ppt to 35.3% while Vi’s has shrunk by 1.8 ppt to 24.6%.

To be sure, Jio continues to be the number one telco with a user base of almost 411 million for the December quarter, FY21, while Airtel and Vi’s stood at 307.94 million and 269.8 million respectively.




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