Q1 2018 saw Reliance Jio surpass Vodafone India as the country’s second largest operator in terms of “access service gross revenue”, according to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).
Across the first quarter, TRAI’s figures put Reliance Jio’s revenue at INR62.2 billion ($903 million), while Vodafone brought in a notably lower figure of INR49.4 billion. Market leader Bharti Airtel still easily eclipses both operators with revenue of INR70.8 billion.
While TRAI’s revenue metrics place Jio ahead of Vodafone, it remains in fourth place by subscriber numbers. Although it is on track to take third place by this criterion, this is due to Vodafone and Idea Cellular’s impending merger, which will see their combined units take pole position in the Indian market.
Reliance Jio entered the Indian market in September 2016 and quickly attracted subscribers with fiercely competitive pricing and discounts that effectively provided free voice and data access. As of May 2018, the operator claimed to have reached the 200 million subscriber milestone, and its disruption of the market has prompted a wave of consolidation.
However, since its competitors have had to match its price points, Jio no longer has this advantage and Business Standard has suggested that this will cause its rapid uptake of subscribers to slow. Jio accrued 100 million subscribers in just 170 days, but it took 15 months for the operator to accrue the next 100 million, indicating that its target of 400 million subscribers by 2020 may be optimistic.
Notably, the total number of subscribers in India declined by 39 million between February 2017 and April 2018, suggesting that the market has matured to the point that new subscribers are becoming rare.
Consolidation has also increased the market share of all the largest players, with Business Standard noting that since Jio’s launch, Airtel’s share has leapt from 24% to +30% following its acquisition of Telenor. Vodafone’s share was 17.8% at the time of Jio’s launch – it now sits at 19.74%. Similarly, between February 2017 and April 2018, Idea’s share leapt from 16.60% to 19.27%.