Reliance Jio, which disrupted the telecom market since its launch last year, has started to witness a slowdown in subscriber additions while it continues to gain market share. Data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
(Trai) show the Mukesh Ambani-owned company added 4.09 million customers in August. This is the second-lowest monthly incremental growth for the company since its launch.
Following the commercial roll-out of Jio in September 2016, it has added more than 4 million subscribers every month barring April when the number fell to 3.87 million as the firm started charging for its services. Till January, Jio was adding more than 16 million subscribers every month. In February, subscriber addition dropped to 12 million and then it halved to 5.83 million by March, before touching an all-time low of 3.87 million in April. However, the numbers picked up in May after the company announced new offers.
Another striking piece of data in the Trai numbers
is Tata Teleservices
subscriber addition in August. Tata Tele, which was recently acquired by Bharti Airtel in a no-cash no-debt deal, has been losing customers every month since September last. But in August, Tata Tele added as many as 4.88 million new subscribers, making a record of sorts. When asked about the sudden spurt in customer addition, a company spokesperson did not comment.
A Trai official said the authority was not aware of the reason. For reporting subscribers’ numbers, Trai on August 18 had directed operators to adhere to the Department of Telecommunications’ methodology and give the total number of users including inactive ones.
In August, apart from Tata Tele, Jio and BSNL, all others lost subscribers, pulling down the overall wireless user base to 1185.84 million from 1186.79 million in July. Airtel lost 200,000 subscribers, Vodafone 2.4 million, Idea Cellular 2.89 million, Reliance Communications 4.01 million and Aircel 780,000. Airtel leads the wireless market with a share of 23.7 per cent, followed by Vodafone with 17.55 per cent, Idea 16.11 per cent, Jio 11.19 per cent, BSNL 8.88 per cent, Aircel 7.52 per cent, RCom 6.51 per cent and Tata Tele 3.96 per cent.
Analysts expected a significant addition in subscriber numbers for Jio after the launch of its feature phone. Analysts told Business Standard subscriber additions were likely to pick up with the pre-bookings and delivery of Jio feature phone.
With 4G smartphone user base at around 200 million, the slowdown of Jio subscribers is evident, said Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst, telecommunications, Cyber Media Research. “The next spree of addition can only happen either through JioFi that can connect the existing 3G smartphone base or the Jio 4G feature phone. With the offers already announced, I see October and November numbers going to be great for Jio again,” Kawoosa said.
Jio’s new cashback offer
Jio has announced a cashback of up to Rs 2,599 on every recharge of Rs 399 or above for its Prime members. The cashback offer includes 100 per cent cashback vouchers of Jio worth Rs 400 on every Jio tariff plan recharge of Rs 399 or above. Instant cashback of up to Rs 300 on every recharge by Jio’s partner wallets, including leading digital payment wallets like AmazonPay, AxisPay, FreeCharge, Mobikwik, PayTM and PhonePe. The benefits would be available during the offer period from November 10 to 25.