Updated February 24th, 2024 at 15:16 IST

Bharti Airtel leads subscriber growth in December 2023, Vodafone Idea struggles

The resurgence in subscriber numbers positions Bharti Airtel as a formidable player in the telecom landscape.

Reported by: Tanmay Tiwary
Telecom subscriber growth | Image:Unsplash
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Telecom subscriber growth: The December 2023 subscriber data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) indicates a notable surge in active subscribers for Bharti Airtel, signalling a promising trajectory for the company. 

Image Credits: Unsplash

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Bharti Airtel saw an upswing in its active subscriber base, adding 3 million Visitor Location Register (VLR) subscribers month-over-month (MoM), marking an improvement from the previous month's loss of 0.4 million subscribers.

Contributing to Bharti Airtel's growth were key regions including Delhi, Gujarat, and Kerala, while regions such as UP (East) and Bihar faced challenges in subscriber additions, brokerage firm Emkay said in a note. 

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The resurgence in subscriber numbers positions Bharti Airtel as a formidable player in the telecom landscape.

Meanwhile, Reliance Jio continued its streak of impressive subscriber additions for the 21st consecutive month, gaining 4 million subscribers in December 2023. However, the VLR base growth for Jio saw a more modest increase of 1.2 million MoM, with Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal emerging as major contributors, the brokerage firm highlighted in a note.

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Image Credits: Unsplash

In contrast, Vodafone Idea reported a decline in subscriber count by 1.4 million MoM, with a notable decrease of 1.8 million in its VLR base. 

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The challenges faced by Vodafone Idea were widespread, with losses observed in 14 of the 22 circles. Maharashtra emerged as a positive contributor, while regions such as UP (West), Delhi, and Tamil Nadu witnessed notable declines.

The rural segment witnessed a notable uptick in subscriber additions, particularly driven by Jio's initiatives aimed at converting 2G users to 4G through its JioBharat phones. 

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Jio led the urban-rural mix, with Bharti closely following suit.

Image Credits: Unsplash

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In the broadband segment, Jio maintained its dominance, leading in both wireless and wireline categories. While Jio and Bharti showed growth, Vodafone Idea's wireless broadband subscribers saw a modest increase.

The telecom industry's focus remains on the timing of tariff hikes, particularly as players like Jio and Bharti continue their 5G rollouts. 

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Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, faces the imperative need for major fund-raising to boost its capex and mitigate subscriber losses.

Considering these developments, Emkay analysts continue to favour Bharti and Jio among telecom operators, recognising their strong market positions and growth trajectories.

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Published February 24th, 2024 at 15:04 IST