The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released the performance indicator report (PIR) for the April-June 2021 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) increased from 1,201.2 million as of end-March 2021 to 1,202.57 million as of end-June 2021, registering a growth of 0.11 per cent. Meanwhile, the subscriber base reflected a year-on-year growth rate of 3.62 per cent over the same quarter in 2020. The overall teledensity decreased from 88.17 per cent as of March 31, 2021 to 88.07 per cent as of June 30, 2021.
Reliance Jio emerged as the leader with 440.59 million subscribers as of June 30, 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel (357.05 million) and Vodafone Idea (273.88 million). In terms of net additions during the quarter, Jio recorded the highest net additions of 14.34 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Vodafone Idea lost the highest number of subscribers at 10.36 million while Bharti Airtel lost 0.12 million users.
Telecom subscriptions in urban areas increased from 663.77 million as of end March 2021 to 666.1 million at the end of June 2021, while urban teledensity decreased from 141.03 per cent to 140.86 per cent. Meanwhile, the rural telecom subscriber base decreased from 537.42 million to 536.47 million, and rural teledensity decreased from 60.27 per cent to 60.1 per cent. The share of rural subscribers in the total user base decreased from 44.74 per cent to 44.61 per cent during the period under consideration.
The country’s wireline subscriber base increased from 20.24 million to 21.74 million during the period under review. The wireline teledensity increased from 1.49 per cent at the end of March 2021 to 1.59 per cent at the end of June 2021.
The rural wireline subscriber base increased from 1.67 million as of end March 2021 to 1.93 million as of end June 2021, registering a growth of 15.93 per cent. Meanwhile, the urban wireline subscriber base increased from 18.57 million to 19.8 million, up by 6.63 per cent.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) continued to lead the market with a 34.42 per cent share. The company’s subscriber base increased by 12.53 per cent during April-June 2021, to stand at 7.48 million at the end of the quarter. BSNL also recorded the highest net additions (0.83 million subscribers) amongst all operators during the period.
The total number of public call offices in the country declined from 126,108 at the end of March 2021 to 120,175 at the end of June 2021. Meanwhile, the number of village public telephones stood at 68,606 during the quarter.
The total wireless subscriber base decreased by 0.01 per cent, from 1,180.96 million in March 2021 to 1,180.83 million in June 2021. The teledensity decreased from 86.68 per cent to 86.48 per cent. The rural wireless subscriber base decreased from 535.75 million to 534.54 million. The share of rural subscribers in the total wireless subscriber base decreased to 45.27 per cent during the period under consideration. Meanwhile, the number of urban wireless subscribers increased from 645.2 million to 646.29 million.
With a subscriber base of 436.69 million, Reliance Jio had the highest share of 36.98 per cent in the wireless market, followed by Bharti Airtel with 352.11 million users (29.82 per cent) and Vodafone Idea with 273.33 million users (23.15 per cent). Reliance Jio was the only operator to show a positive growth in its wireless subscriber base, with net additions of 13.78 million. Meanwhile, Airtel and Vodafone Idea witnessed a decline of 0.28 million and 10.38 million subscribers respectively.
Mobile ARPUs and usage
The monthly all-India blended ARPU for GSM and LTE services increased by 1.04 per cent from Rs 103.58 in the quarter ended March 2021 to Rs 104.66 in the quarter ended June 2021. Prepaid ARPUs increased from Rs 97 to Rs 99 while post-paid ARPUs decreased from Rs 226 to Rs 215.
The overall monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) per subscriber per month decreased from 829 to 822 during the period. The ratio of incoming and outgoing MoUs stood at 49.9:50.1 during the quarter ended June 2021. Meanwhile, the average number of outgoing SMSs per subscriber per month stood at 15.
Quality of service
During March-June 2021, the quality of service (QoS) performance of wireless service providers improved in terms of percentage of calls answered by operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds. However, the QoS performance deteriorated in terms of period of applying credits/waivers /adjustments to the customer’s account from the date of resolution of complaints, accessibility to call centres/customer care and percentage of requests for termination/ closure of service complied with within seven days. Meanwhile, the QoS performance of wireline service providers showed improvement in terms of fault incidences and percentage of faults repaired by the next working day. It deteriorated in terms of mean time to repair, accessibility to call centres/ customer care, percentage of calls answered by operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds and time taken for 100 per cent refund of deposits after closure.
Internet and broadband
As per reports received from 468 operators, the total number of internet subscribers increased from 825.3 million as of end March 2021 to 833.71 million as of end June 2021 at a quarterly growth rate of 1.02 per cent. Of the total 833.71 million internet subscribers, 792.78 million were broadband subscribers and 40.93 million were narrowband subscribers.
Reliance Jio led the internet market with 439.91 million subscribers as of end-June 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel (220.15 million) and Vodafone Idea (136.14 million). The top 10 ISPs together accounted for 99.3 per cent of the subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of internet subscriptions (wired and wireless) were Maharashtra (71.21 million), Andhra Pradesh including Telangana (64.38 million), Uttar Pradesh East (63.5 million), Bihar (56.81 million) and Tamil Nadu (56.41 million).
As of end June 2021, there were 792.78 million broadband subscribers and 40.93 million narrowband subscribers. Wireless (dongle and phone) was the most preferred technology for providing broadband services and it constituted 97.09 per cent of the total broadband subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of broadband subscriptions were Maharashtra (68.25 million), Andhra Pradesh including Telangana (61.38 million), Uttar Pradesh East (59.38 million), Tamil Nadu (53.73 million) and Madhya Pradesh (53.4 million).
Wireless data usage
The total wireless data usage increased from 27,799 petabytes (PB) during the quarter ended March 2021 to 32,397 PB during the quarter ended June 2021. Of the total data wireless usage, 2G data usage stood at 154 PB, 3G at 578 PB and 4G data usage at 31,665 PB. The share of 3G and 4G in the total volume of wireless data usage was about 1.78 per cent and 97.74 per cent, respectively, during the quarter ended June 2021.
During the quarter ended June 2021, the sector’s gross revenue and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) stood at Rs 648.01 billion and Rs 513.35 billion respectively. The gross revenue decreased by 2.97 per cent as compared to the previous quarter, while the AGR grew by 5.66 per cent, recording a year-on-year growth of -3.08 per cent and 16.33 per cent respectively.