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According to a new note by research firm ICRA, the total telecom subscriber base in the country stood at 1,206.2 million in March 2018, following a strong addition of 26 million, the highest monthly addition since December 2016.
Further, ICRA note said that the active subscriber base rose by 17 million subscribers in March 2018, after declining successively for the last two months.
It said the top four telcos added 32.6 million wireless subscribers in March 2018, led by Jio which added 9.4 million subscribers followed by Idea's 9.1 million subscriber addition. Airtel and Vodafone added 8.4 million and 5.6 million subscribers respectively.
Harsh Jagnani, Sector Head & Vice President- Corporate Ratings, ICRA, "In a continuing competitive industry scenario, the larger telcos are vying for the subscriber base of the existing telcos by offering competitive tariff plans. The subscriber-led competition is expected to continue for a few more quarters."
On account of a healthy addition to the subscriber base, the top four telcos together have a subscriber base of 924.7 million, strengthening their combined market share to 78.1 percent as of March 2018 as against 67.2 percent as of March 2017, ICRA informed.
Airtel continues to be the market leader, with a market share of 25.7 percent in March 2018, while Vodafone and Idea have a market share of 18.8 percent and 17.8 percent respectively as on March 2018, pending merger. Jio's market share stood at 15.8 percent as on March 2018 up from 9.3 percent back in March 2017.
In another positive for the industry, the broadband subscriber base has maintained strong growth momentum, with Y-o-Y increase of 49 percent in March 2018. This was driven by healthy subscriber base increase of 53 percent Y-o-Y in the wireless broadband segment, which constitutes over 95 percent of the total broadband subscriber base in the country, Jagnani added.
The total subscriber base of the remaining telcos has been declining - at 258.7 million as on March 2018 as against 383.4 million as of March 2017.
The situation appears even stark when seen in terms of active subscribers. The top four telcos hold 902.3 million active subscribers or 90.4 percent market share. This has increased significantly from 73.0 percent as on March 2017, indicating gradual waning away of the existing telcos.
Jagani added: "Further, considering that wireless broadband subscribers still constitute only around 33 percent of the total wireless subscribers in the country, there is considerable growth potential in this segment and ICRA expects this segment to show healthy growth going forward."