RJio is set to overtake Vodafone as second-biggest player in urban India

Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 15, 2017

Bharti Airtel is still the top player in urban areas, says IIFL report

Within just one year of operations, Reliance Jio is set to overtake Vodafone to become the second-biggest operator in terms of subscribers in urban areas.

According to an analysis of the data released by the TRAI, Bharti Airtel is still the top operator in urban areas with 140 million users. Vodafone has about 95 million subscribers in urban areas closely followed by RJio at about 90 million. There are 680 million urban subscribers in the country.

“RJio has almost become the second-largest urban telecom operator by subscribers and has similar number of rural subscriber as BSNL,” GV Giri of IIFL stated in a research report.

RJio has also raced to 29 per cent subscriber share in the mobile Internet market as of the first quarter of 2018, with Bharti being the only other telco to have added data subscribers in the past year. According to IIFL, RJio may have by now overtaken Vodafone in the second quarter. The telecom regulator reports the actual numbers with a lag.

“RJio’s urban subscriber base was marginally below Vodafone’s as of June and we estimate RJio to have overtaken Vodafone in the second quarter, considering Vodafone’s subscriber loss,” Giri added.

“Users on RJio network consume more data than the combined usage on AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the US. We clearly did not expect such a response from Indian users when we started out. But this is just the beginning of what we have to do,” says a top company official.

RJio’s entry into the telecom sector has disrupted not just the industry but also consumer behaviour. A 4G subscriber now uses data that is four times that of a 3G subscriber on an average.

“Overall data usage has jumped 9x in the past year, with 4G accounting for more than 80 per cent of total data usage. India has more 4G subs than 3G or 2G data subs,” Giri said.

RJio’s entry has disrupted incumbent operators’ business models with most of them reporting losses since last year. Two of the largest operators, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, have now been forced to attempt a merger to survive.

“The impact on incumbents is short-term. Finally, the entire industry will benefit as data consumption rises,” said the RJio official.

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Published on October 15, 2017
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