Vodafone Idea lost 34.67 lakh mobile subscribers in February, even as Reliance Jio continued to be on a roll adding 62.57 lakh users, according to latest data released by sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Jio continued to lead the total wireless subscriber tally by a wide margin with a base of 38.28 crore mobile users during the month. Bharti Airtel added 9.2 lakh users during February, and its total mobile subscriber base stood at 32.90 crore.
Even state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) garnered 4.39 lakh subscribers during February.
In terms of subscriber market share for wireless services, Reliance Jio held 32.9 per cent, with Bharti Airtel at 28.35 per cent and Vodafone Idea at 28 per cent share as on February 29, 2020.
Jio added maximum subscribers (62.57 lakh) in February, while Bharti Airtel gained 9.2 lakh users. Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, lost a staggering 34.6 lakh users during the same period.
The number of telephone subscribers in India (landline and mobile combined) rose to 118 crore at the end of February, a growth of 0.32 per cent over the previous month, the TRAI said.
Urban telephone subscription dipped marginally to 66.1 crore at the end of February, but the rural subscription increased to 51.9 crore.
Overall wireless subscribers (2G, 3G and 4G) increased to 116 crore at the end of February, a monthly increase of 0.36 per cent, it said.
TRAI said that as per reports received from 341 operators in February, the number of broadband subscribers increased to 68.1 crore at the end of February, registering a growth rate of 1.15 per cent over the previous month.
“Top-five service providers constituted 98.99 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of February. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (383.67 million), Bharti Airtel (146.10 million), Vodafone Idea (118.25 million), BSNL (24.67 million),” it said.
Meanwhile, industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has urged the government for urgent rationalisation of “high burden” of regulatory levies on telecom service providers (TSPs), including a cut in spectrum charges and licence fee, as it cited adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
In a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Sunday (June 28), the COAI also made a plea for refund of the unutilised input tax credit immediately.
“Else, we request that soft loan at MCLR rate (marginal cost of funding-based lending rate) should be given to companies, using the GST input credit as collateral,” COAI Director General Rajan Mathews said in the letter dated June 26.
The association has also urged the government to rationalise the “high burden of the regulatory levies on the TSPs with immediate effect” citing “the adverse impact on the economy and operations of the digital communication industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“The effective rate of the spectrum usage charge (SUC) should be reduced by 3 per cent for all the telecom service providers…licence fee contribution should be immediately brought down from 8 per cent to 3 per cent,” Mathews said.
On the issue of good and service tax (GST) or service tax, COAI said levy of GST should be exempted on licence fees, SUC and payment of spectrum acquired in auctions.
“Exempt service tax on amount of licence fee/spectrum usage charges payable by telecom operators in compliance with…Supreme Court order,” COAI said.
COAI highlighted that it represents all leading telecom service providers, network equipment manufacturers, e-commerce, digital content providers, infrastructure providers and technology partners.
All leading players in these sectors, including Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Nokia, Ericsson, Sterlite, Indus, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Amazon, are members of COAI.
(With inputs from agencies)