The percentage of active mobile subscribers crossed 90 per cent in March 2023, according to the telecom subscription data by TRAI. The industry added 6.7 million active subscribers in March. Telecom operators, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio added 2.4 million and 4.9 million active subscribers, respectively, while Vodafone Idea lost 0.4 million active subscribers.
The proportion of active subscribers in India was hovering near 80 per cent only two years ago. It was common practice for users to have the sims of two operators, with one network connection being inactive. Low income prepaid users, also refrain from doing a top-up on their mobile plans for months on end, making them inactive subscribers as well.
Big jump for Jio
Over the last year, telecom operators, particularly Reliance Jio made a concerted effort to remove inactive, low-paying subscribers to make their subscriber composition more attractive for investors. While Reliance Jio’s active subscriber ratio is around 93.57 per cent as of March 2023, in December 2021, only 87.64 per cent of the telco’s subscriber base had active mobile connections. In the year and a half, it has improved its active subscriber count by 6 percentage points.
On the other hand, Bharti Airtel has had a good active subscriber base for many years, around 98 per cent on average. In March, Airtel reported an active subscriber base of 99.63 per cent. State run telecom operators continue to have an abysmal active subscriber base. As of March 2023, only 50.23 per cent of BSNL’s wireless connections are active, meanwhile, only 18.58 per cent of MTNL’s mobile connections are active.