Vodafone Idea add active users in March for first time since merger

Vodafone Idea (Vi) has added active mobile users in March 2022 — the first time since erstwhile Vodafone India and merged nearly four years ago. This, analysts said, indicated that Vi was not impacted by SIM consolidation despite the sharp tariff hike taken last November.

“Vi saw active subscriber net adds of 0.2 million in March, the first positive net-add month, post-merger…its active user base is at 226 million,”

said in a note, analysing the latest customer data put out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). ET has seen a copy of the note.

Earlier this week, Vi’s management said on the telco’s Q4 earnings call that it would be incorrect to say that tariff hikes disproportionately impacted the lower income segment, especially as telecom remains an essential service and accounts for only a small share of overall customer wallet.

Sunil Mittal-led , though, added the highest number of active mobile users – 4.6 million – among India’s top telcos in March while Reliance Jio reported almost flattish growth on this count at 0.3 million, which indicated that the Mukesh Ambani-led telco’s dormant users clean-up drive is virtually over.

ICICI Securities said “Airtel reported its best active user net adds in the past 12 months, helped by strong mobile broadband user gains”. Analysts said this also indicated market acceptance of Airtel’s last round of tariff hikes.

Trai data, though, showed that Jio retained its market leadership on both the active user base and active user market share fronts in March. Its active user base is now at 379 million while its active user share, which slipped a few decimal points, is at 37.1%.

Airtel remains at second spot with an active user base of 356 million and an active user share of 34.8%. Vi’s active user share, in turn, is at 22.1%.

Active, or visitor location register (VLR), data put out every month by Trai shows the number of customers regularly using a telco’s mobile network.

said “Jio’s active user additions were flattish and its active subscriber base too remained flat, month-on-month, indicating the completion of the clean-up in inactive users”.

Jio, in fact, added 1.26 million gross users in March after a three-month decline, which also indicated that the prolonged SIM consolidation phase, post its December 2021 price hike, is likely over. SIM consolidation causes a sharp fall in the number of mobile connections as consumers make fresh choices on their preferred telco brands after price hikes. This often results in many consumers with two mobile connections (read: SIM cards) retaining just one.

Trai data showed Jio has further consolidated its leadership in the home broadband market. Jio added 0.24 million customers to its JioFibre service in March, taking its fixed broadband user base to 5.3 million. Airtel added 0.10 million such users, boosting its home broadband user base to 4.5 million.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) – the No 3 wired broadband player — reported flattish user gains at 0.04 million, leaving its home broadband user base stagnant at 3.9 million, underlining its inability to compete effectively with Jio and Airtel.

“Jio had a 19.4% share of the home broadband subscriber base end-March, compared with 16.6% for Airtel and 14.1% for BSNL,” ICICI Securities said, analysing Trai data.


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