New Delhi- Bharti Airtel added 2.74 lakh mobile subscribers in September even as larger rival Reliance Jio lost 1.9 crore users and Vodafone Idea lost 10.77 lakh subscribers during the month, according to data released by telecom regulator TRAI.

The subscriber base of Airtel stood at 35.44 crore in September as against 35.41 crore users in August. The net additions for the telco came in at 2.74 lakh users, the monthly subscriber data compiled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) showed.

India’s largest telecom operator Reliance Jio had 42.48 crore mobile subscribers as on September as it lost net 1.90 crore users.

Troubled Vodafone Idea lost 10.77 lakh subscribers during the month under review and its subscriber base shrank to 26.99 crore as on September 2021.

It may be recalled that Reliance Jio had disclosed and talked at length about the loss of subscribers while announcing its September quarter results.

During Q2 FY22, Reliance Jio Infocomm President Kiran Thomas said COVID has been quite tough on a lot of people in India, especially at the bottom of the pyramid.

“During the peak of the second wave, we had done a lot of initiatives… giving free voice minutes to keep them on our network… to keep lifeline alive. But, two quarters later, we find that a large number of people at the bottom of the pyramid have not been able to stay up-to-date with recharges,” Thomas had said.

According to the policy, the company kept them in the database for about 90 days.

“So, effectively, the effect of these people stopping recharging two quarters before is now getting reflected in our subscriber count, and because of that, you see a net reduction of about 11 million in this quarter,” Thomas had said.

The muted numbers for the two private telcos also echoed on the overall headline wireless tally reported by TRAI for September.

“The total wireless subscribers decreased from 1,186.72 million at the end of August-21 to 1,166.02 million at the end of September-21, thereby registering a monthly decline rate of 1.74 per cent,” it noted.

As on September 30, 2021, the private access service providers held 89.99 per cent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 10.01 per cent.

The wireless tele-density in India decreased from 86.78 per cent at the end of August 2021 to 85.20 per cent at the end of September 2021.

Wireless subscription in urban areas decreased to 637.89 million (or 63.78 crore) at the end of September 2021 and that in rural areas fell to 528.13 million (52.81 crore) during the same period.

“As on 30 September, 2021, the top five Wireless Broadband Service providers were Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (424.84 million), Bharti Airtel (203.45 million), Vodafone Idea (122.36 million), BSNL (19.10 million) and Tikona Infinet Ltd. (0.30 million),” TRAI said.  (PTI)


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