Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s pace of new subscriber addition continued to be significantly higher than incumbent operators even as the number of active users remained lower than the industry average.

Reliance Jio added 47.8 lakh subscribers in May, an increase of 4.2 percent over April, according to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The largest player in the telecom space, Bharti Airtel Ltd., added 20.9 lakh customers, growing 0.7 percent over April.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, which are mulling a mega-merger, added 11.3 lakh and 1.9 lakh customers respectively during the same period.

The Mukesh Ambani-backed operator triggered intense competition in the telecom industry with its free services for the first six months since its launch, and by offering data at disruptive prices.

Reliance Jio managed to increase the number of active users on its network, but it still remained below the industry standard. Active wireless subscribers for the operator stood at 75.7 percent of the total users, higher than the 71.1 percent active users it had in April.

However, the number was lower than the industry average of around 86.4 percent. The percentage of active subscribers of rivals Idea Cellular Ltd., Airtel and Vodafone India stood at 101.1 percent, 96.8 percent and 94.02 percent respectively.

Reliance Jio’s active subscribers began declining since it started operations. Its active subscriber base was 95 percent when it launched operations in September last year but the number has since then gradually fell.

Bharti Airtel maintained its dominance over the Indian telecom market with a 23.6 percent share, followed by Vodafone with 17.8 percent and Idea with 16.6 percent share. Reliance Jio has managed to capture 9.9 percent of the market share, data showed.

With the new customer additions, Reliance Jio's total subscriber base grew to 11.74 crore at the end of May 2017. In contrast, Bharti Airtel has 27.8 crore users, Vodafone had 21.09 crore and Idea had 19.6 crore users.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications Ltd. and Aircel Ltd. both added new customers for the first time since September. The two, since announcing their merger last year, have been losing customers every month. The combined subscriber base of the two operators has fallen to 17.3 crore from 18.4 crore in September. –Bloomberg Quint


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