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Airtel Faces Loss in Active Users, Jio Gains Momentum with Low-Cost Offerings

In October 2023, Airtel faced a loss of nearly 1.2 million active users, attributed to its costlier mobile services that followed a significant increase in base prepaid rates implemented a year ago. This loss may have resulted in de-activations as per data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). In contrast, Reliance Jio added 1.84 million active users, indicating a high uptake of its low-cost internet-enabled feature phone, Jio Bharat. Vodafone Idea (Vi) experienced a loss of approximately 1.41 million active customers after unexpected additions in September 2023.

Airtel's active user base decreased to 374.96 million in October 2023 from 376.15 million in September 2023. Meanwhile, Jio's active user base increased to 422.11 million, and Vi's active user base shrank to 198.38 million. The Visitor Location Register, a key metric reflecting the number of active users on a mobile network, showed that Airtel had 99.31% of its users active on the network, Jio had 93.31%, and Vi had 87.98%.

In terms of gross customer additions, Jio outperformed Airtel, adding 3.15 million mobile users in October, while Airtel reported 350,000 additions. Vi continued to suffer losses, resulting in a shrinkage of its gross mobile user base by 2.04 million to 225.48 million by the end of October.

Trai data revealed that Jio's gross mobile customer base increased to 452.36 million in October, while Airtel's saw a modest increase to 378.13 million. Jio widened its customer market share to 39.3%, Airtel's remained unchanged at 32.85%, and Vi's narrowed to 19.59%.

Despite Vi's significant losses and Airtel's modest gains, India's mobile subscriber base increased marginally to 1.150 billion at the end of October 2023. The wireless tele-density remained steady at 82.54%.

In the landline segment, Jio consolidated its market leadership by adding 210,000 wireline users, bringing its total landline user base to 10.67 million. Airtel, in second place, added 140,000 users, reaching a total wireline user base of approximately 8.07 million. Third-ranked state-owned BSNL lost 40,926 wireline users, reducing its landline user base to 6.2 million, according to Trai data.


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