Airtel shines with 4.1 million subscriber additions in Dec

India’s mobile subscriber base reached 1.15 billion in December 2020, according to telecom regulator TRAI.
Airtel, Jio, Vi mobile networkActive mobile subscribers increased by 7 million in December to 975 million. Bharti Airtel added 4.1 million subscribers at 339 million in December, according to analysis by Motilal Oswal.

The company regained its top spot in terms of active mobile subscriber market share (SMS) at 33.7 percent. The quality of Airtel’s mobile phone subscribers is reflected in its strong 4G subscriber additions of 4.4 million vs Jio’s additions of 0.5 million. Airtel took 94 percent of incremental subscriber market share in December.

Jio’s monthly gross 4G subscriber additions have slowed to 0.5 million in December at 409 million vs 1.9 million in November and an average of 7 million in FY20. Active subscriber additions of Jio were better at 3.2 million (but slower than 5.4 million in Nov) in December. Jio maintained its top spot in gross SMS at 35.4 percent.

The pace of gross / active subscriber loss for Vi continues at 5.7 million / 1.5 million in December to 284 million / 257 million after a loss of 2.9 million / 1.9 million in November. This is a key red flag as the 3QFY21 result positively hinted at slower deceleration.

MBB subscribers

4G subscriber additions of telecom operators slowed to 4.9 million at 724 million — after adding 63 million over May-November 2020. MBB subscribers now account for 74.3 percent (flat MoM) of active subscribers.

Bharti Airtel continued with its healthy outperformance streak of the past seven months, with 4.4 million MBB additions in December grabbing 94 percent incremental share at 176 million.

Jio added 0.5 million MBB subscribers to 409 million vs ~7 million in FY20.

VIL lost 0.2 million MBB subscribers at 121 million, after adding 0.6m million / 0.5 million in October / November.

Bharti Airtel’s 4G market share increased 40bp MoM to 24.3 percent, while Vi/Jio’s share dropped 10bp / 30bp MoM to 16.7 percent/56.4 percent.