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Why Airtel Losing Users is Merely Adding to Reliance Jio’s Kitty

Both telcos are fighting tooth and nail to get more users on board but numbers speak for themselves.

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Reliance Jio continued to increase its subscriber base in December 2018 as other major telecom operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel lost users during this period, data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) showed on Wednesday.

While Reliance Jio added 8.5 million subscribers during the month under review, taking its total subscriber base to 280 million. Vodafone Idea, the largest telecom operator in terms of subscribers, lost around 2.3 million subscriptions and its base by December-end stood at 418 million.

Even Airtel’s total subscriber base came down to 3.4 million, down by 1.1 million users from November, the data showed.

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“Total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA and LTE) increased from 1,171.76 million (117.17 crore) at the end of November 2018 to 1,176.00 million (117.6 crore) at the end of December 2018, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.36 per cent,” TRAI said in a statement.

On region-wise subscription trend, TRAI said that "during the month of December 2018, all service areas except the northeast, showed positive monthly growth in their wireless subscribers". Interestingly, TRAI also pointed out that Jio and BSNL were the only operators to add new users to their respective network.

Now what could possibly be the reason behind Airtel losing its users, while Jio continues to add to its kitty. For starters, from a basic comparison of plans, you can clearly see that Jio manages to offer more data for less price and users seem to be buying into that idea every month.

Add to that, a recent survey by LocalCircles in India observed that 37 percent of users on Airtel have seen an increase in call connect failure and call drop over the last three months from late 2018 to present day.

So, when Airtel claims to be offering fast 4G internet speeds, TRAI’s own speed report suggests Jio has the beating of its rival with network and speed as well.

Both telcos are fighting tooth and nail to get more users on board but numbers speak for themselves.
Call drops have become a pertinent issue for mobile users in India. 
(Photo: iStock altered by The Quint)

Jio has heavily benefited from entering the telecom sector with a clean slate. It didn’t have to worry about legacy networks like 2G and 3G, which Airtel has been offering for a long time.

This has ensured Airtel has to not only invest in the present and future, but also maintain its past network commitments as well. The end result, shoddy network, owing to high density congestion and uptake in demand for internet in the country among others.

Airtel, in its defense, wants to cater to users with high average revenue per user (ARPU), which might work out on the balance sheet, but quarterly or even monthly user addition list wouldn’t please its shareholders and it needs to find a balance between adding users and making money at the same time.

(With IANS inputs)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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