The state-run telecom operator BSNL has added 11.13 million users with a subscriber growth rate of 11.50 per cent, second to Mukesh Ambani led Jio, which steep at around 122 percent in last year.
According to annual report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Airtel and Vodafone had a growth rate of 9.13 per cent and 3.83 per cent respectively. Whereas Idea had 3.14 percent growth rate.
Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Telenor, Aircel and MTS, were biggest losers in market share in 2017.
Besides Airtel, Vodafone and Idea witnessed downfall in revenue and profitability substantially, leading to about 19 per cent decline in the industry’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR).
The average revenue per user (ARPU) per month in the industry declined to Rs 81.39 in 2017 against Rs 118.65 in 2016, said a BS report. The industry also witnessed decline in voice share. In 2016, when the ARPU of the industry (GSM) stood at Rs 118.65, revenue from calls was Rs 59 but has decreased to Rs 32.08 in 2017.
Revenue from data usage remained constant at Rs 27.50 in 2016 as well as 2017. The ARPU of Rs 81.39 is of GSM service, which constitutes the majority of wireless subscribers at 1,162.20 million in 2017.
Among the many probable reasons for drop in voice revenue included the popularity of the operators’ bundled plans.
Jio’s ARPU was the highest at Rs 137. Airtel’s ARPU was Rs 116 whereas Idea’s was Rs 105.
However, the report further mentioned that revenue from voice has decreased, usage has increased immensely. Average minutes of usage per subscriber per month increased to 441 during 2017 as against 370 in 2016.
To increase ARPU, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are reportedly in talks with phone makers to make 4G smartphones available at mere Rs 500 to compete against Jiophone.
It is slated to offer users with attractive bundled voice plans for Rs 60-70 per month against Jio Rs 49 plan. The trio aims to take up their APRU to increase data consumption in the long term.
After Reliance Jio launch in Septemeber 2016, which claimed to have disrupted the telecom industry through its offers of free voice calls and cheap data tariffs, the company has turned profitable within 17 months.
Jio posted a net profit of Rs 504 crore compared with a loss of Rs 271 crore in the preceding quarter. Jio claims to have around 168 million subscribers.
Till March this year, India’s total mobile subscribers base stood at 1.035 billion. Airtel was followed by Vodafone India which ended March with 222.69 million subscribers, adding 5.6 million subscribers.
At the end of March 2018, Idea Cellular had the maximum number of subscriber additions where it added 9.14 million users to bring its total subscribers to 211.2 million.
Meanwhile, the government also is planning to establish a comprehensive telecom data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals. It had last telecom policy made in 2012.