The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released the performance indicator report (PIR) for the quarter ended June 2016. The report, which is based on 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 1,058.86 million in end-March 2016 to 1,059.86 million in end-June 2016, registering a growth of 0.09 per cent over the previous quarter. The subscriber base reflected a year-on-year growth of 5.25 per cent over the same quarter in 2015. The overall teledensity decreased from 83.36 per cent as on March 31, 2016 to 83.2 per cent as on June 30, 2016.
Bharti Airtel led the pack with 259.47 million subscribers as of June 30, 2016. It was followed by Vodafone India (199.49 million) and Idea Cellular (176.23 million). With regard to net additions during the quarter, Airtel recorded the highest growth (4.57 million) followed by Vodafone (1.46 million).
Telecom subscription in urban areas decreased from 609.69 million as of end-March 2016 to 609.45 million as of end-June 2016, while the urban teledensity decreased from 154.01 per cent to 153.22 per cent during the same period. The rural telecom subscriber base grew from 449.17 million in March 2016 to 450.41 million in June 2016, thereby increasing the rural teledensity from 51.37 per cent to 51.4 per cent. Further, the share of rural subscribers in the total user base increased from 42.42 per cent in March 2016 to 42.5 per cent in June 2016. Idea Cellular had the highest share of rural subscribers (55.05 per cent) in its total user base, followed by Vodafone India (53.39 per cent).
The country’s wireline subscriber base declined from 25.22 million to 24.74 million during the period under review, thereby reducing the wireline teledensity from 1.99 per cent to 1.94 per cent. The rural subscriber base dropped from 4.32 million to 4.08 million, while the urban subscriber base decreased from 20.9 million to 20.66 million.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) continued to lead the market in this space with 57.39 per cent share. However, the company’s subscriber base decreased by about 3.8 per cent during the April-June 2016 quarter and stood at 14.2 million. Bharti Airtel recorded the highest net additions (68,000 subscribers) during the period.
The total number of public call offices in the country stood at 526,000 as of end-June 2016, compared to 589,000 as of end-March 2016. The number of village public telephones declined from 586,799 as of end-March 2016 to 586,774 as of end-June 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 0.14 per cent from 1,033.63 million in March 2016 to 1,035.12 million in June 2016. The teledensity decreased from 81.38 per cent to 81.26 per cent during April-June 2016. The share of rural subscribers increased from 43.04 per cent to 43.12 per cent during the same quarter.
GSM services continued to dominate the wireless market, accounting for 96.28 per cent of the total wireless subscriber base. The GSM subscriber base stood at 996.66 million in June 2016 as compared to 989.54 million in March 2016, registering a growth of 0.72 per cent. Meanwhile, the CDMA user base registered a decline of 12.78 per cent, from 44.09 million in March 2016 to 38.46 million in June 2016.
With a subscriber base of 255.73 million, Bharti Airtel had the highest share of 25.66 per cent in the GSM market, followed by Vodafone India with 199.38 million users and Idea Cellular with 176.23 million users.
Among CDMA operators, Reliance Communications (RCOM) maintained its leadership position with a subscriber base of 19.58 million and a market share of 50.9 per cent. RCOM was followed by Tata Teleservices Limited and Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited with 10.35 million and 7.59 million subscribers respectively.
Mobile ARPUs and usage
The monthly all-India blended ARPU for GSM services increased from Rs 124.85 during the quarter ended March 2016 to Rs 126.05 during the quarter ended June 2016. Prepaid ARPUs increased from Rs 107 in March 2016 to Rs 108 in June 2016, while post-paid ARPUs increased from Rs 488 to Rs 495.
The overall monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) per subscriber for GSM services decreased from 381 during the quarter ended March 2016 to 377 during the quarter ended June 2016. The overall ratio of incoming and outgoing MoUs stood at 51.7:48.3, while the number of outgoing SMSs per subscriber per month declined from 21 in the quarter ended March 2016 to 20 in the quarter ended June 2016.
The monthly all-India blended ARPUs for CDMA mobile services decreased from Rs 103.54 in the quarter ended March 2016 to Rs 98.51 in the quarter ended June 2016. The ARPUs for prepaid services decreased from Rs 52 to Rs 49 during this period, while the ARPUs for post-paid services decreased from Rs 499 to Rs 474.
The overall monthly CDMA MoUs per subscriber decreased by 12.54 per cent from 260 in the quarter ended March 2016 to 228 in the quarter ended June 2016. Prepaid MoUs per subscriber per month decreased from 237 in the quarter ended March 2016 to 208 in the quarter ended June 2016. Post-paid MoUs per subscriber per month decreased from 445 in the quarter ended March 2016 to 379 in the quarter ended June 2016.
Quality of service
During April-June 2016, the performance of 2G wireless service providers improved in terms of quality of service (QoS) parameters such as worst-affected base transceiver stations (BTSs) due to downtime, call set-up success rate (within the licensee’s own network), traffic channel (TCH) congestion, call drop rate, worst-affected cells having more than 3 per cent TCH call drop rate, connection with good voice quality, metering and billing credibility (prepaid), period of applying credit/waiver/adjustment to customer’s account from the date of resolution of complaints and percentage of calls answered by the operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds. Meanwhile, the performance of 2G wireless service providers deteriorated owing to QoS parameters such as point-of-interconnection (PoI) congestion, accessibility of call centre/customer care, percentage requests for termination/closure of service complied with within seven days and time taken for the refund of deposits after closure.
Meanwhile, 3G operators showed an improvement in several QoS parameters. These include worst-affected BTSs and Node Bs due to downtime, call set-up success rate (within the licensee’s own network), stand-alone dedicated control channel/paging channel and radio resource control congestion, TCH and circuit-switched radio access bearer congestion, call drop and circuit-switched voice drop rate and worst-affected cells having more than 3 per cent TCH call drop rate and circuit-switched voice drop rate. However, there were two parameters that showed a deterioration in the QoS – connection with good voice quality and circuit-switched voice quality, and PoI congestion.
Internet and broadband
TRAI has classified the parameters for this segment into two parts – internet subscribers accessing broadband services without mobile devices and internet subscribers accessing broadband services through mobile devices.
As of June 2016, the country had 142 internet service providers (ISPs) and 350.48 million internet subscribers, including those accessing the internet through their mobile handsets. Wired broadband subscribers stood at 20.76 million. Bharti Airtel led the internet market with a 26.4 per cent share (an internet subscriber base of 92.52 million as of end-June 2016), followed by Vodafone India (69.72 million) and Idea Cellular (49.07 million). The top 10 ISPs together accounted for 98.46 per cent of the total subscriber base. The top five states in terms of internet subscriptions (wired and wireless) are Maharashtra (30.36 million), Tamil Nadu (including Chennai) (27.96 million), Andhra Pradesh (25.86 million), Uttar Pradesh (East) (24 million) and Karnataka (22.56 million).
As of June 2016, there were 162.06 million broadband subscribers and 188.42 million narrowband subscribers. Wireless devices including dongles and phones are the most preferred type of technology used by service providers to provide broadband services. It accounts for 88.98 per cent of the total broadband subscriber base. The top five states with regard to broadband subscriptions are Tamil Nadu (including Chennai) (15.35 million), Maharashtra (15.13 million), Delhi (13.02 million), Karnataka (12.92 million) and Andhra Pradesh (12.11 million).
During the quarter ended June 2016, the sector’s gross revenue and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) stood at Rs 733.44 billion and Rs 533.83 billion respectively. The gross revenue and AGR increased by 12.79 per cent and 13.26 per cent from the quarter ended June 2015 onwards.