The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released the performance indicator report (PIR) for the April-June 2019 quarter. The report, prepared on the basis of information provided by service providers, highlights the growth trends in the telecom sector during this period.
According to the report, the country’s telecom subscriber base (wireless and wireline) grew marginally from 1,183.51 million as of end March 2019 to 1,186.63 million as of end June 2019, registering a growth of 0.26 per cent. Meanwhile, the subscriber base reflected a year-on-year growth rate of 1.52 per cent over the same quarter in 2018. The overall teledensity remained constant at 90.11 per cent.
Vodafone Idea Limited emerged as the leader with 383.77 million subscribers as of June 30, 2019, followed by Reliance Jio (331.26 million) and Bharti Airtel (324.65 million). With regard to net additions during the quarter, only Jio recorded a positive growth with 24.53 million additions. All other operators witnessed negative growth in their subscriber base during the quarter though the fall in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) base was the least.
Telecom subscription in urban areas increased from 669.16 million as of end March 2019 to 675.58 million as of end June 2019, while urban teledensity increased from 159.96 per cent to 160.78 per cent. The rural telecom subscriber base declined from 514.35 million as of end March 2019 to 511.05 million as of end June 2019, resulting in a decline in rural teledensity from 57.47 per cent to 56.99 per cent. The share of rural subscribers in the total user base also declined from 43.46 per cent to 43.07 per cent during the period under consideration. Vodafone Idea had the highest share of rural subscribers (51.89 per cent) followed by Bharti Airtel (44.05 per cent).
The country’s wireline subscriber base reduced from 21.7 million to 21.17 million during the period under review, thereby decreasing wireline teledensity from 1.65 per cent to 1.61 per cent.
The rural wireline subscriber base decreased from 3.02 million as of end March 2019 to 2.85 million as of end June 2019, registering a decline of 5.62 per cent. Meanwhile, the urban wireline subscriber base declined from 18.67 million to 18.31 million, down by 1.91 per cent.
BSNL continued to lead the market with a 50.05 per cent share. However, the company’s subscriber base decreased by 5.13 per cent during April-June 2019 to stand at 10.59 million at the end of the quarter. Bharti Airtel recorded the highest net additions (0.12 million subscribers) during the period. The total number of public call offices (PCOs) in the country declined from 255,268 during the quarter ended March 2019 to 228,371 during the quarter ended June 2019. The number of village public telephones (VPTs) also declined from 130,376 to 104, 466. At the end of the quarter, only 17.59 per cent of the country’s 593,731 inhabited villages (as per Census 2001) were connected by VPTs.
The total wireless subscriber base (GSM and CDMA) increased by 0.31 per cent from 1,161.81 million in March 2019 to 1165.46 million in June 2019. The teledensity increased from 88.46 per cent to 88.5 per cent. The rural wireless subscriber base declined from 511.32 million to 508.19 million while the share of rural subscribers in the total wireless subscriber base declined from 44.01 per cent to 43.6 per cent during the period under consideration. Meanwhile, the number of urban wireless subscribers increased from 650.49 million to 657.27 million. With a subscriber base of 383.41 million, Vodafone Idea had the highest share of 32.9 per cent in the wireless market, followed by Reliance Jio with 331.26 million users (28.42 per cent) and Bharti Airtel with 320.35 million users (27.49 per cent). Only Reliance Jio and BSNL showed positive growth in their wireless subscriber base, with net additions of 24.53 million and 0.52 million respectively. All other service providers witnessed a decline in their subscriber base during the quarter.
Mobile ARPUs and usage
The monthly all-India blended ARPU for GSM and LTE services increased from Rs 71.39 in the quarter ended March 2019 to Rs 74.30 in the quarter ended June 2019. Prepaid ARPUs increased from Rs 63 to Rs 66 while post-paid ARPUs declined from Rs 261 to Rs 253. The overall monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) per subscriber per month increased from 692 minutes during the quarter ended March 2019 to 701 minutes during the quarter ended June 2019. The ratio of incoming and outgoing MoUs stood at 50.2:49.8 during quarter ended June 2019. Meanwhile, the number of outgoing SMSs per subscriber per month stood at 17.07.
Quality of service
During March-June 2019, the quality of service (QoS) performance of wireless service providers improved in terms of TCH, RAB and E-RAB congestion, accessibility of call centre/customer care, percentage of calls answered by operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds, and time taken for the refund of deposits after closure. The QoS performance of wireless service providers deteriorated in terms of period of applying credits/waivers/adjustments to customer accounts from the date of resolution of complaints, and percentage of requests for the termination/closure of service complied with within seven days.
Meanwhile, the QoS performance of wireline service providers deteriorated in terms of percentage of faults repaired by the next working day (for urban areas), mean time to repair, percentage of calls answered by the operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds, and percentage of requests for the termination/closure of service complied with within seven days.
Internet and broadband
TRAI has divided the segment into two parts – internet subscribers who do not access services through mobile devices and internet subscribers who access services through mobile devices. As of end March 2019, the country had 665.31 million internet subscribers, including those accessing the internet through mobile handsets. The wired internet subscriber base stood at 21.67 million. Reliance Jio led the internet market with 331.25 million subscribers as of end June 2019, followed by Bharti Airtel (150.45 million) and Vodafone Idea (143.3 million). The top 10 internet service providers together accounted for 99.49 per cent of the subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of internet subscriptions (wired and wireless) were Maharashtra (55.18 million), Andhra Pradesh (51.9 million), Uttar Pradesh East (47.92 million), Tamil Nadu including Chennai (46.96 million) and Madhya Pradesh (43.26 million). As of end June 2019, there were 594.58 million broadband subscribers and 70.72 million narrowband subscribers. Wireless (dongle and phone) was the most preferred technology for providing broadband services and it constituted 96.81 per cent of the total broadband subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of broadband subscriptions were Maharashtra (49.33 million), Andhra Pradesh including Telangana (46.9 million), Tamil Nadu including Chennai (42.58 million), Uttar Pradesh East (40.6 million) and Karnataka (38.59 million).
Wireless data usage
The total wireless data usage increased from 15,850,560 terabytes (TB) during the quarter ended March 2019 to 17,940,576 TB during the quarter ended June 2019. Of the total data wireless usage, 2G data usage stood at 108,324 TB, 3G at 1,225,636 TB and 4G data usage at 16,606,616 TB. The share of 3G and 4G in the total volume of wireless data usage was about 6.83 per cent and 92.56 per cent respectively during the quarter ended June 2019. The share of 2G data remained constant at 0.6 per cent.
During the quarter ended June 2019, the sector’s gross revenue and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) stood at Rs 615.35 billion and Rs 391.24 billion respectively. The gross revenue increased by 5.34 per cent as compared to the previous quarter, while the AGR increased by 8.88 per cent. The gross revenue and AGR recorded a year-on-year growth of 5.37 per cent and 7.03 per cent, respectively, during the quarter ended June 2019. s
Akanksha Mahajan Marwah