Vodafone Idea staggers as millions of users say goodbye

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Vodafone Idea staggers as millions of users say goodbye (Image: myvi.in)
Vodafone Idea staggers as millions of users say goodbye (Image: myvi.in)

Delhi : Vodafone Idea, India's third largest telecom operator, lost the most active subscribers in six months in May, according to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India data released on Tuesday. The company's active user base fell by 1.77 million to 205.3 million throughout the month. According to analysts, the cause for Vodafone Idea's loss of subscribers can be related to lesser network spending in the absence of the fundraising. For the 26th consecutive month, the telecom operator lost mobile users. It lost 2.8 million mobile members during the month, bringing its overall subscriber base to 230.94 million at the end of May.

The drop in Vodafone Idea's VLR (visitor location registration) base can be attributable to Gujarat and Mumbai, whereas Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (East) recorded a rise, according to brokerage Emkay Global. The number of active customers, including those traveling on a mobile operator's network, is displayed in the visitor location register. During the month, Vodafone Idea VLR was at 88.8%.In comparison, active customers for Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio increased by 2.4 million and 4.9 million, respectively. Airtel and Jio's total mobile customer bases increased by 1.3 million and 3 million, respectively. Airtel's mobile customer count was 372.31 million, with all of its subscribers active throughout the month, whereas Jio's subscriber base was 436.31 million. 

The increase in subscriber base for Airtel and Jio is due to churn in users by Vodafone Idea. According to the peak visitor location record, 1.043 billion or 91.27% of the total 1.143 billion subscribers were active, including those roaming on a mobile operator's network. During the month, the total number of subscribers increased by 73,811 members.

For the 17th month in a row, state-owned BSNL has lost wireless subscribers. The corporation lost 1.5 million wireless members in May, bringing its total base to 101.4 million. Similarly, the number of active customers dropped by roughly 500,000 to 52.7 million. Reliance Jio has a wireless subscriber market share of 38.17% at the end of May, up from 37.9% in April. In the wireless subscribers' section, Bharti Airtel's market share increased to 32.57% from 32.45% in April, while Vodafone Idea's share decreased to 20.2% from 20.45%. Except for Uttar Pradesh (East), Kerala, Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Kolkata, and Tamil Nadu, all other service regions had an increase in wireless subscribers in May, according to TRAI data.

The total number of mobile subscribers in urban areas decreased slightly to 626.26 million, whilst the subscriber base in rural regions increased to 516.95 million from 516.39 million.11.47 million customers submitted their Mobile Number Portability (MNP) requests in May. This resulted in an increase in overall MNP requests from 830.65 million at the end of April to 842.12 million at the end of May, according to Trai.

According to Trai data, the three telecom companies increased their 4G subscriber base by 5.15 million. During the month, Vodafone Idea only added 0.01 million 4G subscribers. According to analysts, the change in the subscriber base from 2G as well as the loss of subscribers by Vodafone Idea led to the growth of 4G subscribers for Airtel and Jio. Because Jio's network was built entirely for 4G from the beginning, its 4G subscriber increase is equal to its overall additions. Airtel increased its 4G subscriber base by 2.10 million, bringing the total to 240.21 million. As of the end of May, there were 123.58 million 4G subscribers with Vodafone Idea. The three carriers' combined 4G user base increased to around 800 million.

Jio is still in the lead in the wireline market. The operator increased its subscriber base by 325,336 and now has a base of more than 9.7 million. At the end of May, Airtel had 7.4 million wireline subscribers, compared to 6.5 million for BSNL in the same market. In the wireline segment, BSNL lost 475,708 users during the month, while Airtel gained 125,586. The second-largest fixed line or wireline service provider, Airtel, overtook BSNL in March. Telephone and broadband internet services are offered through a network of cables in the wireline segment.