Mixed fortunes for India's big three operators

Mixed fortunes for India's big three operators

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s report for August underlines the challenges facing the big three operators in India.

Reliance Jio saw its total subscriber base rise by over 8.4 million subscribers in the month of August, according to TRAI. The operator enjoyed the highest monthly growth rate of the three major operators in the market at nearly 2.5 percent. Its subscriber base is now close to 350 million. By contrast Bharti Airtel lost an estimated half a million subscribers; its subscriber base is now approximately 327 million. Vodafone Idea's loss, however, was nearly 5 million subscribers, leaving it with a total subscriber base of about 375 million.

But it isn’t all good news for Reliance Jio. Bharti Airtel leads on active users with a base of a little over 93 percent. Vodafone Idea (just over 82 percent) and Reliance Jio (a little more than 83 percent) aren’t doing quite as well.

The report notes that wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 659.87 million at the end of July 2019 to 662.74 million at the end of August 19. However, it says, wireless subscription in rural areas fell in the same period from 508.45 million 508.25 million.

All of which underlines the difficulties faced by the big three as 5G investment looms and price competition continues to bite. These difficulties attracted comment from a Huawei spokesperson, who was reported in the Indian press as saying that 2019 has been a challenging year for the infrastructure vendors due to reduced capex by India's operators’ which, in turn, is due to the financial pressures the operators are under.

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