Telecom subscriber base in the country again crossed the 1.2 billion mark, with mobile service companies recording a net addition of over 26 million customers in March, according to monthly subscriber report of telecom regulator TRAI released today.
"The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,179.83 million at the end of February 2018 to 1,206.22 million at the end of March 2018, thereby showing a monthly growth rate of 2.24 percent," the report said.
The overall teledensity in the country reached to 92.84 with the urban teledensity of 165.90 and rural teledensity at 59.05 at the end of March. The Indian telecom industry's subscriber base had for the first time breached the 1.2 billion mark in May 2017 but slipped below it in November 2017.
The net addition trend shows that March was a competitive month for the mobile segment with Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel reducing their gap significantly with Reliance Jio.
Reliance Jio led the market with a net addition of 9.42 million, taking its total subscriber base to 186.56 million. It was closely followed by Idea and Airtel with a net addition of 9.14 million and 8.4 million, respectively. State-run BSNL added 2.56 million new customers.
All net additions by mobile operators during the reported month were over 2 million indicated impact of consolidation in the market with subscribers moving to a handful of service providers that are continuing their operations.
Among operational service providers, Aircel — which is attempting to close operations — lost 4.7 million customers. Tata Teleservices, which is in process of a merger with Airtel, lost over 2 million customers, Telenor India lost 1.3 million customers and MTNL lost 7,700 mobile customers.
Reliance Communications (RCom), which has shut down mobile calling services, still had 1,85,968 customers on its network.
Airtel topped the chart in terms of market share with 304.19 million subscribers, followed by Vodafone 222.69 million and Idea with 211.2 million customers.
The fixed-line telephone segment continued to decline and reduced to 22.81 million connections. Though state-run firm BSNL dominated the market with the highest share of 12.26 million customers, it lost 5,304 customers. RCom lost 169,052 fixed line connections and MTNL 10,157 connections.
Vodafone led new subscriber addition by adding 12,280 fixed line connections, taking its total subscriber base to 220,981.
The number of broadband subscribers increased to 412.6 million in March from 392.06 million in February. The mobile segment accounted for over 95 percent of the total broadband connections.
"Top five service providers constituted 95.23 percent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of March 2018. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (186.56 million), Bharti Airtel (85.67 million), Vodafone (59.77 million), Idea Cellular (39.84 million) and BSNL (21.08 million)," the report said.
(Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd)