Despite Reliance Jio’s aggressive push into the Indian market, with its extended offers for free voice and data, the country’s top three mobile operators saw their market shares by subscribers drop only slightly.
Market leader Bharti Airtel saw its market share drop 1.3 percentage points since end-September – dipping to 23.3 per cent at end-March from 24.6 per cent at the end of Q3 2016, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Airtel lost market share despite expanding its user base by 5.2 per cent over the six months to 31 March. It ended Q1 with 271.3 million subscribers after adding 13.3 million since the beginning of October.
Vodafone India, the number two player, also lost 1.3 percentage points in its market share over the past six months, dipping to 17.85 per cent at end-March. It picked up 5.8 million new subs during the period, increasing its user base by 2.8 per cent to 220 million.
Number three Idea Cellular, which experienced the fastest growth of the top three, lost less than half a percentage point in its share, closing March with a 16.6 per cent share. It added 14.5 million subscribers in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, taking its total to 193.3 million.
Combined Airtel, Vodafone and Idea added 33.6 million new subscribers in Q4 and Q1.
Reliance Jio, which launched 4G service nationwide in September, ended Q1 2017 with 108.8 million subscribers after adding 36.5 million subs during the quarter, according to GSMA Intelligence. It had a 9.3 per cent market share at end-March.
While the top three players’ market share has dipped only slightly since September, their balance sheets have been impacted by a price war sparked by Jio’s free data offers. Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular posted heavy losses in the January to March quarter.
India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in June asked the finance ministry to reduce the estimated non-tax revenue to be collected from telecoms operators for the current fiscal year by more than a third due to widespread discounting and the industry’s heavy debt.