Telecom customer base grew by about half a per cent to 119.45 crore in March led by Reliance Jio and continued growth in fixed line connections.”The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,188.55 million at the end of February 2017 to 1,194.58 million at the end of March 2017, thereby showing a monthly growth rate of 0.51 per cent,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in monthly subscriber report.
The growth was driven by wireless segment which grew by about half a per cent to 1,170.18 million by adding 5.98 million net mobile subscribers.The fixed line connections in the country registered sequential growth, led by state-run telecom firm BSNL, after a long period.”Wireline subscribers increased from 24.35 million at the end of February 2017 to 24.40 million at the end of March 2017,” the report said.
As per experts, the fixed line is estimated to have seen continuous decline after 2003. There were 40.3 million wireline connections in the country on January 1, 2007. The new entrant Reliance Jio, which is now the fourth largest telecom operator in the country, continued to drive growth in mobile telephony segment with net addition of over 5.83 million mobile customers. Its closest rival Bharti Airtel’s net subscriber addition was over 2.99 million customers in the reported month.
Idea’s net addition was over 2.09 million customers which was closely followed by BSNL which added 2.07 million new customers. Vodafone added 1.83 million new customers in March. MTNL added just 286 new customers. The growth in wireless segment was mitigated by six mobile operators losing over 8 million customers. Reliance Communications lost over 2.77 million customers, Quadrant ( Videocon’s subsidiary) lost 2.24 million customers, Tata Teleservices 2.23 million, Telenor 1.13 million, Sistema 339,648 and Aircel 153,746 customers.
Quadrant has announced closure of mobile services, Telenor has sold its business to Airtel, Sistema and Aircel are in process of amalgamating business with RCom. In wireline space, BSNL added over 44,000 new customers. It was followed by Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone in terms of new customer addition. The broadband segment continued to register growth with subscribers increasing to 276.52 million at the end of March from 261.31 million at the end of February. The growth in broadband segment too was driven by Reliance Jio which offers only 4G mobile services.
“Top five service providers constituted 87.48 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of March 2017. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (108.68 million), Bharti Airtel (49.13 million), Vodafone (37.72 million), Idea Cellular (24.70 million) and BSNL (21.67 million),” the report said. Out of the total wireless subscriber base of 1,170.18 million), 1,016.38 million wireless subscribers were found active on the date the data was recorded.