The reopening of the Indian economy and of some physical retail outlets seems to have had a positive effect on mobile subscriber numbers, which saw a rise of 3.5 million during July. This makes up, in part, for the loss of 3.2 million subscribers in June. The overall base is now 1.144 billion.
According to Indian press reports, the figures included something of a milestone for Reliance Jio, which became the first mobile phone operator to cross the 400 million subscriber mark, adding 3.55 million users in July to reach 400.8 million – just over 35 percent of the market, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) figures.
Bharti Airtel added 3.26 million subscribers to end the month at just under 320 million users, (close to 28 percent of the market). Vodafone Idea (now rebranded as Vi), however, lost 3.72 million subscribers and now has 301.3 million, or 26.34 percent share.
But these figures do not tell the whole story. Only 78.09 percent of the Jio figure includes active users. For Bharti Airtel the figure is 97 percent and for Vi it is 89.33 percent. That means Jio has a whopping 87.8 million inactive users, compared with Airtel’s 9.5 million and Vi’s 32.1 million.
This may be because of the high number of migrants across India out of work during the various lockdowns who gave up their Jio connections. If true, this situation may change in the coming months as employment opportunities grow, but Indian press reports suggest that a jobs-led rise in active subscribers may require a decline in coronavirus infections or even the arrival of a vaccine.
As operators try to migrate their subscriber bases to data it’s interesting to note a rise in broadband (that is 4G data) subscribers of 7 million, led by Airtel with 4.4 million more data subscribers and Jio with an additional 3.6 million subscribers. Vodafone Idea lost 1 million data subscribers.