The latest figures show that Reliance now not only leads India’s mobile market in terms of subscribers, but also has the country’s largest fixed broadband user base
To say that Reliance Jio, the telecoms arm of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries conglomerate, has disrupted the Indian market would be a gross understatement.
When the company launched commercial mobile services in 2016, the low cost of its mobile plans initiated a brutal price war, ultimately leading to broad market consolidation, including the creation of Vodafone Idea (now Vi). Jio quickly grew to become the largest operator in the country, a position it retains to this day. With the sector buckling under the weight of the enormous adjusted gross revenue dues that were imposed on country’s mobile operators by the government in the following years, Jio has proved far less encumbered than its rivals, continuing to record fairly consistent growth.
Now, recent figures released from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggest that Jio has followed suit in the fixed broadband space too, overtaking state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) to become the largest fixed line operator in the country.
According to figures from November 2021, JioFibre customers had increased to 4.3 million, higher than both BSNL (4.2 million) and Bharti Airtel (4.08 million) for the first time, representing a market share of 17.8%.
JioFibre’s rise to prominence has been meteoric. Having first launched commercial services in September 2019, the company quickly attracted customers from its more established rivals with an aggressive pricing strategy that left BSNL struggling to compete. In September 2019, BSNL had 8.69 million subscribers, a total which has since shrunk by over 50%.
Bharti Airtel, meanwhile, has fared much better, with their 2.41 million subscribers growing steadily to 4.08 million. Analysts expect Airtel’s fixed subscriber base to continue to grow, likely overtaking BSNL later this year.
BSNL had dominated the Indian fixed line market since its inception over 20 years ago.
Despite its losses in the fixed broadband segment, the company’s Chairman, PK Purwar, said in October last year that the company was “operationally sustainable” and would look to launch 4G services using homegrown equipment in the following six months.
In related news, Reliance Industries recently announced they would invest $80 billion in green energy projects in Gujarat, including the creation of a new renewable energy power plant capable of delivering 100 gigawatts of clean energy.
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