Reliance Jio pipped Bharti Airtel in February 2021 by adding more mobile phone users, bucking the trend of losing to the Sunil Mittal-led telco for the first time since July 2020.
The country's largest telecom operator widened its subscriber base to 415 million in February, with the addition of 4.2 million users, managing a decent lead in the market, according to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) data. Vodafone Idea also managed to add users for the first time since October 2019.
This means all three private telecom operators - Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea added subscribers during the month, as per TRAI.
Industry watchers attributed the strong market momentum to positive business sentiments prevailing in February, weeks before the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation.
As per sector regulator's data, Bharti Airtel logged 3.7 million net adds, taking its wireless user base in February to 348.3 million.
Notably, Vodafone Idea added 6.5 lakh users (after many months), as it expanded its user base to 282.6 million in February.
Overall, Jio topped net additions in February - the Mukesh Ambani-led company saw a healthy rebound in subscriber net adds at 4.2 million in February, higher than 1.9 million additions in January. Airtel's net adds in January had been 5.8 million.
As per subscriber data released by the TRAI on Tuesday, the total wireless subscribers increased to 1,167.71 million at the end of February 2021, logging a monthly growth rate of 0.72 per cent.
Wireless subscriptions in urban areas rose to 639.24 million at the end of February (633.27 million in January), while in rural areas wireless subscriptions increased to 528.47 million during the same period (from 526.15 million).
Monthly growth rates of urban and rural wireless subscriptions were 0.94 per cent and 0.44 per cent, respectively, TRAI said.
As of February 2021, the private telcos held as much as 89.57 per cent market share of the wireless subscribers, whereas state-owned telecom corporations BSNL and MTNL, had a market share of only 10.43 per cent.
In a buzzing market where overall net wireless subscriber additions came in at 8.2 million, both BSNL and MTNL lost subscribers in February.
The market share of Reliance Jio in terms of total wireless subscribers stood at 35.54 per cent, Bharti Airtel at 29.83 per cent, and Vodafone Idea at 24.20 per cent, as per TRAI.
The number of broadband subscribers increased to 765.09 million at the end of February from 757.61 million in January, a growth of 0.99 per cent.
Top five service providers held 98.8 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of February.
These service providers were Reliance Jio (417.42 million), Bharti Airtel (188.21 million), Vodafone Idea (123.28 million), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (25.42 million), and Atria Convergence (1.82 million).
(With inputs from PTI.)