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Reliance Jio Added 20 Million New Subscribers in December

That’s more than seven times as many as its closest competitor

March 29, 2017 | Mobile | Telecom

Since its launch in September 2016, Reliance Jio has upended the mobile market in India, offering access to 4G data speeds at very low cost. Adoption of Reliance Jio’s services has been immediate and dramatic: The company reported that it surpassed the 100 million subscriber mark in February.

New data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) underscores just how dramatic customer adoption of Reliance Jio has been. TRAI found that Reliance Jio had 20.3 million net additions to its wireless subscriber base in December 2016. That was more than seven times the number seen by Idea, which had the second highest number of new subscribers that month with 2.8 million.

Despite the strong appeal of Reliance Jio among wireless consumers, the company still only controls a small sliver of subscriber share in India. According to TRAI’s data, it still trails the three largest mobile service providers—Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular—with a 6.4% share.

Mobile Service Provider Subscriber Share in India, Dec 2016 (% of total)

While its market share remains small, Reliance Jio’s effect on the entire vertical has been outsized. Data from India Ratings and Research found that the telecom industry’s revenue had dropped by about 20% since Reliance Jio launched its new services. Reliance Jio’s disruption has been credited with a wave of attempted consolidation among its competitors, with Vodafone and Idea Cellular planning a merger that would control about 35% of the market, as measured by customer base.

All of this chaos has been good for at least one element—India’s smartphone users. eMarketer estimates that the country will have 267.1 million smartphone users by the end of 2017. Increased competition among mobile service providers means that these users will have access to faster data at substantially lower costs.

That will help drive not just the mobile market, but also the consumption of data-intensive online activities like digital video viewing, helping to hasten the development of India’s mobile ecosystem.

—Rahul Chadha

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