The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently released the performance indicator report (PIR) for the October-December 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) decreased from 1,189.15 million as of end-September 2021 to 1,178.41 million as of end-December 2021, registering a decline of 0.9 per cent. However, the subscriber base reflected a year-on-year growth rate of 0.39 per cent. The overall teledensity decreased from 86.89 per cent as of September 30, 2021 to 85.91 per cent as of December 31, 2021.
Reliance Jio emerged as the leader with 421.05 million subscribers as of December 31, 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel (361.35 million) and Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) (266.05 million). In terms of net additions during the quarter, Airtel became the biggest gainer with net additions of 1.59 million subscribers, while Reliance Jio and Vi lost 8.43 million and 4.51 million subscribers respectively.
Telecom subscriptions in urban areas decreased from 659.09 million as of end-September 2021 to 655.2 million at the end of December 2021, while urban teledensity decreased from 138.72 per cent to 137.26 per cent. Meanwhile, the rural telecom subscriber base decreased from 530.06 million as of end-September 2021 to 523.21 million at the end of December 2021. Further, rural teledensity decreased from 59.33 per cent to 58.5 per cent. The share of rural subscribers in the total user base decreased marginally, from 44.57 per cent to 44.4 per cent during the period under consideration.
The country’s wireline subscriber base increased from 23.13 million to 23.79 million during the period under review. The wireline teledensity increased from 1.69 per cent at the end of September 2021 to 1.73 per cent at the end of December 2021.
The rural wireline subscriber base increased from 1.9289 million as of end September 2021 to 1.9294 million as of end December 2021, registering a marginal growth of 0.03 per cent. Meanwhile, the urban wireline subscriber base increased from 21.2 million to 21.86 million, up by 3.09 per cent.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) continued to lead the market with a 31.92 per cent share. However, the company’s subscriber base decreased by 3.03 per cent during October-December 2021 to stand at 7.59 million at the end of the quarter. Reliance Jio recorded the highest net additions (0.69 million subscribers) among all operators during the period.
The total number of public call offices in the country declined from 81,723 at the end of September 2021 to 73,634 at the end of December 2021. Meanwhile, the number of village public telephones stood at 68,606.
The total wireless subscriber base decreased by 0.98 per cent from 1,166.02 million in September 2021 to 1,154.62 million in December 2021. The teledensity decreased from 85.2 per cent to 84.17 per cent. The rural wireless subscriber base decreased from 528.13 million to 521.28 million. The share of rural subscribers in the total wireless subscriber base decreased to 45.15 per cent during the period under consideration. Meanwhile, the number of urban wireless subscribers decreased from 637.89 million to 633.34 million.
With a subscriber base of 415.72 million, Reliance Jio had the highest share of 36 per cent in the wireless market, followed by Bharti Airtel with 355.77 million users (30.81 per cent) and Vi with 265.51 million users (23 per cent). Bharti Airtel and BSNL were the only two operators that showed a positive growth in their wireless subscriber base, with net additions of 1.3 million and 0.91 million respectively. However, Reliance Jio and Vi witnessed a decline of 9.12 million and 4.48 million subscribers respectively.
Mobile ARPUs and usage
The monthly all-India blended ARPU for GSM and LTE services increased by 5.55 per cent from Rs 108.16 in the quarter ended September 2021 to Rs 114.16 in the quarter ended December 2021. Prepaid ARPUs increased from Rs 102.16 to Rs 107.98 while post-paid ARPUs decreased from Rs 212.28 to Rs 210.33.
The overall monthly minutes of usage (MoUs) per subscriber per month increased from 827 minutes to 854 minutes during the period. The ratio of incoming and outgoing MoUs stood at 50:50 during the quarter ended December 2021. Meanwhile, the average number of outgoing SMSs per subscriber per month stood at 14.
Quality of service
During September-December 2021, the quality of service (QoS) performance of wireless service providers improved in terms of the worst affected BSs due to downtime, uplink (UL) packet drop rate or UL-PDR ≤ 2 per cent, 100 per cent resolution of billing/charging/validity complaints within six weeks, and percentage of calls answered by operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds. However, QoS performance deteriorated in terms of 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; percentage of faults repaired by the next working day, mean time to repair, percentage of calls answered by operators (voice to voice) within 90 seconds, and time taken for 100 per cent refund of deposits after closure within 60 days. It deteriorated in terms of call centre/customer care accessibility.
Internet and broadband
As per reports received from 639 operators, the total number of internet subscribers decreased from 834.29 million at the end of September 2021 to 829.3 million at the end of December 2021, with a quarterly decline rate of 0.6 per cent. Out of a total of 829.3 million internet subscribers, 792.08 million were broadband subscribers and 37.21 million were narrowband subscribers.
Reliance Jio led the internet market with 420.28 million subscribers as of end December 2021, followed by Bharti Airtel (230.65 million) and Vi (136.25 million). The top 10 internet service providers together accounted for 99.07 per cent of the subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of internet subscriptions (wired and wireless) were Maharashtra (71.45 million), Uttar Pradesh East (67.94 million), Andhra Pradesh including Telangana (63.29 million), Bihar (58.24 million) and Tamil Nadu (57.03 million).
As of end December 2021, there were 792.08 million broadband subscribers and 37.21 million narrowband subscribers. Wireless (dongle and phone) was the most preferred technology for providing broadband services, and it constituted 99.61 per cent of the total broadband subscriber base. The top five circles in terms of broadband subscriptions were Maharashtra (68.85 million), Uttar Pradesh East (63.43 million), Andhra Pradesh including Telangana (60.43 million), Bihar (55.19 million) and Tamil Nadu (54.65 million).
Wireless data usage
The total wireless data usage increased from 34,568 PB during the quarter ended September 2021 to 34,608 PB during the quarter ended December 2021. Of the total wireless data usage, 2G data usage stood at 114 PB, 3G at 480 PB and 4G data usage at 34,014 PB. The share of 3G and 4G in the total volume of wireless data usage was about 1.39 per cent and 98.28 per cent respectively during the quarter ended December 2021.
During the quarter ended December 2021, the sector’s gross revenue and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) stood at Rs 696.95 billion and Rs 551.51 billion respectively. The gross revenue increased by 3.56 per cent as compared to the previous quarter, while the AGR grew by 3.07 per cent. However, on a year-on-year basis, the gross revenue declined by 2.64 per cent while the AGR increased by 15.81 per cent. s
Kuhu Singh Abbhi