India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has published the April 2021 edition of its credit news digest on India’s telecom sector. It highlights the trends in the telecom sector, with a focus on subscriber additions, subscriber market share, broadband subscribers, data usage, pricing and regulatory and industry updates.
The key highlights of the report are as under:
Industry-wide Subscriber Base Grew in January 2021: As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data, the industry-wide wireless subscriber base grew by strong 5.6 million subscribers in January 2021 on a month-on-month basis, after reporting a dip by 1.4 million subscribers in the previous month. The subscriber base has continued to grow since July 2020, with December 2020 being the only exception, attributable to Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJio; ‘IND AAA’/Stable) and Bharti Airtel Limited (BAL; debt rated at IND A1+), while, Vodafone Idea Limited continued to report losses in its subscriber base in January 2021. The visitor location register subscriber base, which shows active subscribers, also reported strong growth of 3.3 million subscribers to 979 million in January 2021.
BAL Maintained Lead in Wireless and Broadband Subscriber Addition in January 2021: The pace of growth in wireless subscribers of BAL continued to surpass that of RJio for the sixth month in a row in January 20201. Therefore, BAL is also able to accelerate the improvement in its subscriber market share (SMS) over the last six months, which improved to 29.7% in January 2021 (+180bp from 28% in July 2020). RJio’s SMS improved marginally by 40bp to 35.4%, while VIL lost SMS by 200bp to 24.3% over the last six months.
Moreover, in January 2021, BAL continued to lead the pack in terms of
the addition in broadband subscribers for seventh months in a row. BAL reported
the highest increase in broadband subscribers (5.6 million) in January 2021,
followed by RJio (2.1 million) and VIL (2.0 million).
Broadband Penetration Rising; Industry Moving Towards Higher ARPU Regime: The number of broadband subscribers increased to 63.4% of the overall wireless subscriber base in January 2021 from 62.8% in December 2020 and 47% in March 2019. In January 2021, the number grew by strong 9.8 million (December 2020: 5.0 million). The sliding voice tariffs, growing data tariffs, increasing data usage per subscriber, increasing data subscribers in the overall subscriber base and reducing tariff differentials among the telcos, over the last one year, indicate that the industry is moving towards a higher average revenue per user regime.
Source: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
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