Vodafone-Idea’s (VIL) mobile subscription base continues to decline for the 14th consecutive month in May, losing 2.8 million subscribers, while Reliance Jio (Jio) added 3 million subscribers, which is the straight 15th month of subscriber addition.
According to the latest data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the active wireless subscribers (VLR data) base declined by 1.8 million for VIL, as the VLR proportion increased to 88.9 per cent in May 2023 from 88.6 per cent in April 2023. According to analysts, the decrease in VLR base can be attributed to Gujarat and Mumbai, whereas Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (E) reported an increase in their base.
Jio’s VLR base grew by 4.9 million, as its VLR proportion improved to 94.5 per cent in May from 94 per cent in April. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (E) and Rajasthan witnessed an uptick, while the VLR base of Mumbai reported a decline.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel added 1.3 million wireless subscribers in May. It’s VLR base grew by 2.4 million, with VLR proportion at 100.1 per cent, against 99.8 per cent in April. Bihar, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh (E) were the main contributors to the VLR increase, while Mumbai and Gujarat were the major laggards. Bharti discontinued its ₹99 plan in February in the remaining 19 circles, which may have impacted the company’s subscriber addition when compared with Jio, the analysts said.
Even as the two larger operators maintain their focus on 5G rollouts, the key trigger remains the quantum and timeline of tariff hikes. VIL needs a sizeable fund-raising at the earliest to increase capex to restrict the loss of further subscribers, they added.
In overall industry subscription, the TRAI monthly report indicated that total wireless subscribers decreased from 1,143.13 million at the end of April to 1,143.21 million at the end of May, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.01 per cent. Wireless subscription in urban areas decreased from 626.74 million at the end of April to 626.26 million at the end of May.
However, wireless subscription in rural areas increased from 516.39 million to 516.95 million during the same period. The monthly growth rate of urban and rural wireless subscriptions was -0.08 per cent and 0.11 per cent respectively.