India’s mobile connections increased 7 per cent last year to reach 946.2 million, according to GSMA Intelligence.
It is the second largest mobile market in the world, behind China with 1.3 billion connections.
Despite six players gaining or losing between 11 million and 20 million connections, there was no change in the overall rankings and little change in market share. Only three operators picked up or lost more than a percentage point in market share: Idea Cellular gained 1.1 points while BSNL lost 2 points and Reliance Communication dropped 1.5 points.
The country’s top three operators – Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea – had a 57 per cent market share (up from 55 per cent a year ago). The top eight players controlled 97.6 per cent of the market.
The biggest winner was Idea, which added almost 20 million connections last year and now has just under 148 million, giving it a 15.6 per cent market share. Smartphone adoption increased from 12 per cent of its user base to 17 per cent at the end of the year, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Vodafone India saw its user base increase by 17.5 million to 177.6 million. Its market share inched up marginally to 18.8 per cent. It had the highest smartphone adoption rate (21 per cent) among the country’s 12 operators.
Market leader Bharti Airtel signed up 16 million users in 2014, bringing its total to 214 million (22.6 per cent market share). Its smartphone penetration jumped from 9 per cent a year ago to 14 per cent.
Aircel, which is 74 per cent owned by Malaysia’s Maxis, added almost 12 million connections. With 78.6 million total connections, it has a 8.3 per cent market share, up from 7.6 per cent a year ago, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Telenor’s Uninor had the highest growth during the period (33 per cent) as its connections increased by 11 million to 44 million. Its share rose from 3.7 per cent to 4.6 per cent.
Tata Docomo, a joint venture between Tata Teleservices and Japan’s NTT Docomo, expanded its connections by 3.4 million. With 66.6 million connections, its market share remained steady at 7 per cent.
State-run BSNL lost almost 11 million connections during the period and now has 85 million. Its market share dropped from 11 per cent to 9 per cent. Reliance Communications also lost customers last year, with connections dropping by six million to 111 million. Its market share fell 1.5 percentage points to 11.7 per cent.