New Delhi: Struggling telco Vodafone Idea (Vi) added users for the first time in 15 months, gaining 1.7 million wireless subscribers in January, a month where Bharti Airtel continued to outpace rival Reliance Jio, according to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Top two telcos Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio 5.9 million and 2 million wireless subscribers, respectively in January. Airtel outpaced Jio for the sixth straight quarter, on user additions.

Jio though continues to be the number one telco with a wireless base of 410.7 million wireless subscribers, followed by Airtel 344.6 million and Vi’s 286 million. The

The last time Vi showed a net gain in subscribers was in the month of October 2019, which was also the first time it showed a net addition since the merger in August 2018.

Analysts and industry experts say it is too early to judge whether Vi is witnessing a reversal in trend.

“The 1.7 million addition in subscribers in January is definitely a gain, however it may be also an outcome of the base effect of the previous month which reflected large declines,” said Gaurav Dixit, Associate Director, CARE Ratings. “We will have to analyse for a quarter or so to conclude that Vi is finally seeing some sustainable user addition”.

Vodafone Idea made net additions in the Haryana, Kerala, MP and UP(W) circles.

Another analyst said that Vodafone Idea hasn’t made any strategic changes to its tariff structure which could result in this net addition.

As per data, Jio continued to be the number one telco with a wireless base of 410.7 million wireless subscribers, followed by Airtel 344.6 million and Vi’s 286 million. The telcos’ reported numbers however differ from Trai’s due to the how the two sides account for active subscribers.According to Trai, Bharti Airtel continued to be the leader in terms of active users with 97.44% or 335.8 million active users, while only 79.01% base of Jio was active with 324.5 million users, at the end of January 2021. Vi trailed behind with an active user base of 256.3 million users, which is 89.63% of its total base.

Total wireless subscribers increased from 1,153.77 million at the end of December, 2020 to 1,163.41 million at the end of January, 2021.

In the wireline category, Jio added the highest number of subscribers in the month of January, over 196,437, taking its wireline base to 2.95 million which is almost halfway to Bharti’s wireline base of 4.64 million. Bharti lost 18,545 wireline subscribers in January while the third ranked Vi lost 11,619 wireline subscribers.

Overall, the number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,173.83 million at the end of December, 2020 to 1,183.49 million at the end of January, 2021.




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