Indicating that worst might be over for the telecom industry, all the top three incumbent operators added around 4.74 million subscribers during October.
Although Bharti Airtel has been adding customers regularly barring an odd month when the telco lost users, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have been losing subscribers for the past few months, causing their base to shrink a little.
"India's private telecom service providers have a total of 953.80 million subscribers. The data also includes the figures of Reliance Jio and MTNL by the end of August 2017," industry body COAI said in its monthly report.
The addition by incumbent operators is good news as the telcos managed to increase their base despite competition from Reliance Jio. The latest entrant in telecom space is also seeing some slowdown in subscriber additions. Although Jio is still adding the highest number of subscribers every month but the number has been declining.
The subscriber additions of Jio are not known for October as the operator did not report its numbers to COAI.
Amongst the individual companies, Bharti Airtel continues to hold the top position, with 29.90 per cent market share with a total subscriber base of 285.20 million. Airtel is closely followed by Vodafone, which ended October with 208.32 million subscribers with a market share of 21.84 per cent while Idea Cellular stood at 190.87 million subscribers and 20.01 per cent market share.
The incumbent operators faced the onslaught of free offers and cheaper rates from Jio. The profitability of all the older operators was majorly hit as they were forced to match rates to retain customers. Sector watchers say with Jio raising its rates, there could be stability and an end to the neck-and-neck competition.