For the first time in the history of Indian telecom industry, there is a negative growth with industry reporting a reduction of 20.71 million in number of mobile subscribers.
The number of telephone subscribers in India decreased to 944.81 million at the end of July this year from 965.52 million at the end of June this year, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of minus 2.14 per cent.
The biggest loser in the month was Reliance Communication which lost close to 20.5 million subscribers followed by Tata Teleservices which list 2.5 million users.
Uninor, Videocon and Loop (except Mumbai), all of whom have lost their license due to Supreme Court ruling in 2G scam, together lost more than 1.5 million subscribers. Public sector unit, MTNL was also on the loser’s side, reporting a reduction of 1 lakh 50 thousand customers.
Those operators, who lost their licenses but are still operational and are likely to bid for fresh spectrum, suffered heavily due to Mobile Number Portability facility as their customers switched to other operators in fear of losing connection. RCom and Tata have attributed it to cleaning of the inactive subscriber base from their books.
Commenting on the TRAI data, a Reliance Communication spokesperson said, “The loss in number is due to cleaning of inactive subscribers and will have no impact on their revenues”.
If that is indeed the case than industry is probably looking at a prolonged period of negative growth (reported not actual) given the fact that out of 944 million subscribers only 698 million are reported to be active.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone reported growth figures with 1.5 and 1.2 million subscriber additions respectively. Surprise addition at the third place this time is BSNL with 4 lakh 71 thousand new subscribers beating Idea Cellular which occupies the third spot normally by a whisker (4.5 lakh).
Apart from these four, only Aircel and MTS reported positive subscriber base growth with addition of close to only 4.5 lakh subscribers.