India has 83 million 4G subscribers in rural areas

India has 83 million 4G subscribers in rural areas, representing 35 percent of total subscriber-base that reached 238 million in 2017, research firm CMR said.
4G subscribers in rural IndiaReliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have contributed to the growth of 4G market in India. Jio is the leader in the India 4G market with 160 million subscribers at the end of December 2017.

Reliance Jio has added 88 million subscribers in 2017. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea together added 64 million last year. The telecom analysis indicates that Reliance Jio, a 4G operator owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, could not add customers in line with its expectation. In fact, the year 2016 was a better year for Reliance Jio as compared with 2017.

The comparatively poor demand has prompted the business leaders at Reliance Jio to extend its Jio Prime offer for another 12 months.

The good news is that Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone could not compete with Jio in the 4G space.

“Though laggards, incumbents have managed to increase their 4G subscriber base 3.8 times more than the disruptor operator Jio during 2017. This could be attributed to incumbents aligning their 4G offering to that of Jio in terms of price as well as content,” said Faisal Kawoosa, head – New Initiatives, CMR.

India will have 300 million 4G subscribers by the end of 2018. The report said 58 million will be using a 4G feature phone in 2018. The number of 4G subscribers will be 432 million by 2020 in India. 35 percent of the 4G subscribers will be using feature phones in 2020.

Usage of 4G feature phones for accessing the content is alarming for the telecom operators due to the less attractive ARPU growth for their data business.