Reliance Jio loses nearly 13 million 4G users in December, dragging India’s mobile user base, Trai data shows


Reliance Jio Infocomm lost 12.9 million 4G subscribers in December 2021, dragging its gross user base down to 415.71 million, indicating that the massive clean-up of low-paying customers undertaken by the telecom market leader in the fiscal second quarter continued into the October-December period.

Jio’s sharper-than-expected fall in its mobile users, in fact, has shrunk India’s mobile user base by a whopping 12.88 million to around 1.15 billion in December 2021, according to latest subscriber data issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Thursday.

By comparison, Bharti Airtel added 0.47 million wireless customers, taking its gross user base to 355.76 million while cash-strapped Vodafone Idea (Vi) lost another 1.61 million, lowering its user base further to 265.51million, reflecting its continuing struggles on the 4G operations front.

Jio, in fact, recently reported a 8.5 million drop in its customer base in the December quarter, which, though, partly boosted its average revenue per user (ARPU), which grew nearly 6% sequentially to around Rs 152 in the fiscal third quarter. Analysts, though, have said the sharp drop in Jio’s user base also suggested that the JioPhone Next – Jio’s affordable 4G smartphone developed with Google – launched last Diwali hasn’t helped the telco grow its customers.

Analysts also said that Airtel’s customer additions in December, despite the tariff hikes taken by all three telcos in lateNovember 2021 also suggested that the Sunil Mittal-led telco had an edge, operationally, over Jio and Vi, who have both
suffered heavier customer losses.

Trai data showed Airtel and Vi marginally widened customer market shares to 30.81% (30.43%) and 23% (22.88%)
respectively in December, while Jio’s narrowed to 36% (36.71%), largely triggered by the latter’s removal of low-paying

Jio lost nearly 6 million users in rural India in December. Bharti Airtel and Vi, by contrast, suffered fewer rural user losses
at 1.18 million and 0.97 million respectively.

Jio’s rural mobile user base fell to 179.93 million while Airtel and Vi’s dipped modestly to 170.14 million and 134.32 million

Previously, Jio had been consolidating its leadership in rural markets, helped by strong rural consumer demand for its
earlier offers on its older 4G feature phone, JioPhone. But December customer numbers, collated by Trai, show the Visitor Location Register (VLR), a key metric reflecting the number of active subscribers on a mobile network, showed
that 98.01% of the users were active for Bharti Airtel, 86.42% for Vi and 87.64% for Jio in December.

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