The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released the performance indicator report (PIR) for the January-March 2016 quarter. The report highlights the growth trends in the telecom sector for this period based on information provided by service providers.

According to the report, the country’s telecom subscriber base (wireless and wireline) increased from 1,036.41 million in end-December 2015 to 1,058.86 million in end-March 2016, registering a growth of 2.17 per cent over the previous quarter. Subscriber growth reflected a year-on-year growth of 6.26 per cent over the same quarter in 2015. The overall teledensity increased from 81.83 per cent as on December 31, 2015 to 83.36 per cent as on March 31, 2016.

Bharti Airtel led the pack with 254.9 million subscribers as on March 31, 2016. It was followed by Vodafone India (198.04 million) and Idea Cellular (175.07 million). With regard to net additions during the quarter, Airtel recorded the highest growth (8.01 million) followed by Voda­fone (4.34 million).

Telecom subscription in urban areas increased from 600.66 million in ­end-December 2015 to 609.69 million in end-March 2016, whereas urban teledensity increased from 152.45 per cent to 154.01 per cent during the same period.

The rural telecom subscriber base grew from 435.75 million in December 2015 to 449.17 million in March 2016, which has resulted in an increase in rural teledensity from 49.94 per cent to 51.37 per cent. Further, the share of rural subscribers in the total user base in­c­reased from 42.04 per cent in December 2015 to 42.42 per cent in March 2016. Idea Cellular had the highest share of rural subscribers (55.64 per cent) in its user base, followed by Vodafone India (53.53 per cent).


The country’s wireline subscriber base reduced from 25.52 million to 25.22 million during the period under review, thereby decreasing the wireline teledensity from 2.01 per cent to 1.99 per cent. The rural subscriber base dropped from 4.53 million to 4.32 million, while the urban subscriber base decreased from 20.99 million to 20.9 million.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited continued to lead the market with 58.52 per cent share. However, the company’s subscriber base decreased by about 2.46 per cent during the January-March 2016 period and stood at 14.76 million at the end of the quarter. Bharti recorded the highest net additions (66,000 subscribers) during the period.

The total number of public call offices in the country stood at 589,000 in end-March 2016, as compared to 618,000 in end-December 2015. The number of village public telephones declined from 587,280 in end-December 2015 to 586,799 in end-March 2016. At the end of the quarter, 98.83 per cent of the 593,731 inhabited villages in the country (as per Census 2001) were connected.


The total wireless (GSM and CDMA) subs­­criber base grew by 2.25 per cent from 1,010.89 million in December 2015 to 1,033.63 million in March 2016. The teledensity increased from 79.82 per cent to 81.38 per cent during January-March 2016. The share of rural subscribers in­­cr­eased from 42.66 per cent to 43.04 per cent during the quarter under review.

GSM services continued to dominate the wireless market, accounting for 95.36 per cent of the total wireless subscriber base. The GSM subscriber base stood at 963.99 million in December 2015 as compared to 948.55 million in September 2015, registering a growth of 1.63 per cent. Meanwhile, the CDMA user base registered a decline of 2.52 per cent, from 48.11 million in September 2015 to 46.90 million in December 2015.

With a subscriber base of 251.24 million, Bharti Airtel had the highest share of 24.31 per cent in the GSM market, followed by Vodafone India with 197.95 million users and Idea Cellular with 175.07 million users.

Among the CDMA operators, Reli­ance Communications maintained its leadership position with a subscriber base of 24.16 million and a market share of 54.79 per cent. The operator was followed by Tata Teleservices Limited and Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited with 11.09 million and 7.69 million subscribers res­pectively.

Mobile ARPUs and usage

GSM services

The monthly all-India blended ARPU for GSM players increased from Rs 123 in the quarter ended December 2015 to Rs 125 in the quarter ended March 2016. Prepaid ARPUs increased from Rs 105.14 in December 2015 to Rs 107.33 in March 2016, while post-paid ARPUs increased from Rs 488 to Rs 491.

The overall monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) per subscriber for GSM services increased from 376 in the quarter ended Decem­ber 2015 to 381 in the quarter ended March 2016. The overall ratio of incoming and out­going MoUs stood at 51.6:48.4. The number of outgoing SMSs per subscriber per month declined from 22 in the quarter ended December 2015 to 21 in the quarter ended March 2016.

CDMA services

The monthly all-India blended ARPUs for CDMA mobile services inc­rea­sed slightly from Rs 103.30 in the quarter ended Dec­em­ber 2015 to Rs 103.50 in the quarter ended March 2016. The ARPUs for prepaid services decreased from Rs 54 to Rs 52 during this period. The ARPUs for post-paid services increased from Rs 497 to Rs 499.

The overall monthly CDMA MoUs per subscriber increased by 3.3 per cent from 252 in the quarter ended Decem­ber 2015 to 260 in the quarter ended March 2016.

Prepaid MoUs per subscriber per month increased from 423 in the quarter ended December 2015 to 445 in the quarter ended March 2016. Post-paid MoUs per subscriber per month increased from 230 in the quarter ended December 2015 to 237 in the quarter ended March 2016.

Quality of service

During January-March 2016, the performance of 2G wireless service providers in terms of quality of service (QoS) improved on parameters such as base transceiver stations (BTS) accumulated downtime, worst-affected cells having more than 3 per cent TCH drop (call drop) rate, metering and billing credibility (prepaid and post-paid), resolution of billing/ charging/validity complaints, call set-up success rate, connections with good voice quality, period of applying credit/waiver/ adjustment to a customer’s account from the date of resolution of complaints, accessibility of call centre/customer care, the percentage of requests for termination/ closure of service complied with within seven days and time taken for the refund of deposits after closure. On the other hand, the parameters showing deterioration in QoS for 2G wireless service providers included SDCCH/paging channel congestion, TCH congestion, point-of-interconnection congestion, and percentage of calls answered by operators (voice-to-voice) within 90 seconds.

For 3G operators, several parameters showed an improvement in terms of QoS, such as BTSs and Node B accumulated downtime, worst-affected BTSs and Node B due to downtime, TCH and circuit switched RAB congestion and worst-affected cells having more than 3 per cent TCH drop (call drop) rate and circuit switched voice drop rate (CBBH). However, there were three parameters that showed deterioration in QoS – the call set-up success rate, SDCCH/paging channel and RRC congestion, and call drop and CBBH.

Internet and broadband

TRAI has divided the parameters for this segment into two parts – internet subscribers excluding internet access through mobile devices, and internet subscribers accessing services through mobile devices.

As of March 2016, the country had 138 internet service providers (ISPs) and 342.65 million internet subscribers, including those accessing the internet through their mobile handsets. Wired broadband subscribers stood at 20.44 million. Bharti Airtel led the internet market with a 26.42 per cent share (an internet subscriber base of 90.54 million in end-March 2016), followed by Vodafone India (67.55 million) and Idea Cellular (44.03 million). The top 10 ISPs together accounted for 98.16 per cent of the total subscriber base. The top five states in terms of internet subscrip­tions (wired and wireless) are Maha­rashtra (29.48 million), Tamil Nadu (including Chennai) (28.01 million), Andhra Pradesh (24.85 million), Karnataka (22.63 million) and Uttar Pradesh (East) (22.46 million).

Further, as of March 2016, there were 149.75 million broadband subscribers and 192.9 million narrowband subscribers. Wireless (dongle and phone) is the most preferred technology used by service providers to provide broadband services and it constitutes 88.31 per cent of the total broad­band subscribers. The top five states in respect of broadband subscriptions are Tamil Nadu (including Chennai) (14.89 million), Maharashtra (13.82 million), Kar­na­taka (12.18 million), Delhi (11.98 million) and Andhra Pradesh (11.17 million).

Financial performance

During the quarter ended March 2016, the sector’s gross revenue and adjusted gross revenue stood at Rs 683.35 bil­li­on and Rs 483.79 billion respectively, an increase of 4.77 per cent and 7.13 per cent over the quarter ended March 2015.