Reliance Jio recorded net addition of 31,11,417 subscribers during May 2022, more than thrice its biggest competitor Bharti Airtel, shows data shared by industry watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday. The Sunil Mittal-led telecom incumbent added a net of 10,27,881 subscribers during the month under review.

Meanwhile, May added to the woes of Vodafone Idea as it lost 7,59,258 wireless subscribers during the month. State-run BSNL registered a net decline of 5,31,502 users during the month, whereas MTNL lost 2,665 subscribers.

With this, Reliance Jio commanded the largest wireless subscriber base at 40,87,87,442 users as of May 31, 2022, followed by Bharti Airtel at 36,21,75,161 subscribers. The wireless subscriber base for Vodafone Idea stood at 25,84,46,808 at the end of May 2022. Meanwhile, BSNL’s user base shrank to 11,27,82,385 users.

By market share, private players accounted for 89.87% of wireless subscribers, whereas telecom PSU had 10.13%.

Total wireless subscribers in the country increased to 114.55 crore in May from 114.27 crore in April, marking a marginal monthly growth rate of 0.25%. Wireless subscriptions in urban areas during this period increased to 62.46 crore from 62.38 crore. Wireless subscriptions in rural areas also saw a rise, growing to 52.1 crore from 51.89 crore. Monthly growth rates of urban and rural wireless subscription were 0.12% and 0.40%, respectively.

Total broadband subscribers in India, serviced by 664 operators in May, saw a growth of 0.75% to 794.68 million, compared with 788.77 million in April. During the period under review, wired broadband subscribers increased marginally to 28.10 million, whereas mobile broadband users grew at 0.75% to 765.55 subscribers. Fixed wireless subscribers, who avail Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, point-to-point radio and VSAT services, saw a decline of 7.5% to 1.03 million in May from 1.11 million during April.

Top five broadband service providers constituted 98.48% market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of May 2022. These service providers include Reliance Jio Infocomm (414.67 million), Bharti Airtel (217.09 million), Vodafone Idea (123.24 million), BSNL (25.52 million), and Atria Convergence (2.09 million). As of May 31, 2022, these operators had market shares of 52.18%, 27.32%, 15.51%, 3.21%, and 0.26%, respectively.

Reliance Jio’s leading position in wireless and broadband segments justifies its hefty payment of ₹14,000 crore as earnest money for the upcoming sale of 5G spectrum. The deposit reflects a telecom operator’s appetite and strategy to acquire spectrum during auction. It also determines the eligibility points allocated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through which they target a certain amount of spectrum in a given telecom circle. The telecom department has granted 1,59,830 eligibility points to Jio against its earnest money deposit.

In comparison, Bharti Airtel made the second highest earnest money deposit (EMD) at ₹5,500 crore, less than 40% of what Jio has furnished. The telco has been awarded 66,330 eligibility points. Eager to pick 5G spectrum despite its financial troubles, Vodafone Idea has paid ₹2,200 crore as EMD, bagging 29,370 eligibility points.

Scheduled for July-end, the 5G spectrum auction will see 72,097.85 MHz of spectrum in the low frequency bands of 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, mid frequency band of 3300 MHz, and high frequency band of 26 GHz going under the hammer.

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