Reliance Jio’s ambitious goal may not become a reality anytime soon

Market leader Bharti Airtel added 2.85 million mobile phone subscribers in April, taking its total to 276.5 million, the Cellular Operators Association of India said. The number of subscriber additions by Reliance Jio Infocomm fell from earlier months, according to its last count in March, UBS Securities Asia said in a report.

COAI said Vodafone India enrolled 750,000 customers in April for a total of 209.82 million and Idea Cellular added 680,000 users, taking its subscriber base to 196.05 million.

Bharti Airtel dominated the market with a 29.6% share of users, according to data from the association. “The growth in the subscriptions indicates that consumer base is expanding and reaching new horizons in the country,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General of COAI.

India had 934.58 million mobile subscribers in April, including Jio’s 108.68 million as of March, the latest month for which the company provided data, COAI said. UP East continued to be the largest telecom circle with 82.5 million subscribers.

Maharashtra remained in second position with 78.8 million subscribers and Bihar was third with 76.2 million subscribers. Jio added 5.8 million users in March, UBS Securities Asia said in its report, based on data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Jio’s subscriber additions peaked at 20.3 million in December and fell to 18.5 million in January and 12.2 million in February.

The teleco, which started operations in September, discontinued its free data promotional offer in March. UBS said telcos were able to counter Jio’s competitive data offers.
Airtel, controlled by Sunil Mittal, added 3.58 million broadband customers, UBS said, pointing out that Vodafone India and Idea Cellular also recovered in March.

“The data for April and May will be more significant given Jio has started charging since April. Overall trends suggest Airtel continues to hold a firm footing in the Indian mobile market with key operating metrics outperforming peers,” UBS said.