Published on 18/03/2021 9:11:58 AM | Source: Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd

Telecom Sector Update - Subscriber additions on a steady path By Motilal Oswal

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Subscriber additions on a steady path

Bharti leads the mantle, Jio languishes, while VIL limps back

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released data for Jan’21. Here are the key highlights:

* Industry gross subscribers increased by 9.6m MoM (lost 1.4m in Dec’20) to 1.16b in Jan’21, led by subscriber additions by all three major Telcos. Active subscribers rose by a steady 3.3m in Jan’21 to 979m as RJio/VIL saw sharp subscriber losses.

* Bharti added 5.9m/6.9m gross/active subscribers to 345m/336m in Jan’21, consistently improving the pace of subscriber additions since the past six months. With this, the company regained its top spot in terms of active subscriber market share (SMS) at 34.3%. The quality of subscriber additions is reflected in its strong 5.5m 4G additions taking up 59% incremental SMS.

* RJio’s monthly gross/active subscriber additions of 2m/-3.5m continued to disappoint, taking the total base to 411m/325m. Active subscribers saw the largest loss since the peak of the lockdown in Apr’20, losing 30bp market share to 33.2%.

* VIL’s gross subscribersturned positive for the first time after 14 months, with 1.7m additions (to 286m subscribers), while the decline in its active subscribers slowed to 0.3m to 256m (v/s a loss of 1.5m in Dec’20), signaling a bottoming of the subscriber churn.

* Industry 4G subscriber additions slowed to 9.8m to reach 734m (after adding 68m over May-Dec’20), with 4G subscribers now accounting for 75% (flat MoM) of active subscribers.

* Bharti continued its healthy streak, outpacing peers since the past seven months, with 5.5m 4G additions (59% incremental share) v/s slowing additions for RJio at 2m (v/s ~7m/month in FY20). The same for VIL improved to 1.9m (0.5m in Dec’20). Bharti’s 4G market share rose 40bp MoM to 24.8%, while RJio’s share dropped 50bp to 55.9%.

* Industry wired broadband subscriber additions stood at 0.4m to 22.7m. Of this, RJio added 180k, while Bharti added 90k subscribers.


Active subscriber base steadily rises


The Telecom industry added 9.6m gross subscribers in Jan’21 to touch a subscriber base of 1.16b (v/s a 1.4m loss in Dec’20). The trend has been maintained for the past five months, with Bharti continuing to add higher gross, active and 4G subscribers than RJio. The rise in Bharti/RJio gross subscriber base stood at 5.9m/2m in Jan’21 (v/s 4.1m/0.5m additions in Dec’20). VIL added 1.7m subscribers in Jan’21.

Active subscribers increased by 3.3m in Jan’21 to touch 979m subscribers, after adding 7.2m subscribers in Dec’20 (due to a loss of 3.5m RJio subscribers), highlighting consolidation in the sector. Bharti continued with its strong (6.9m) active subscriber additions, while VIL lost a mere 0.3m subscribers in Jan’21.


Bharti retains the top spot in active SMS

Bharti added 6.9m active subscribers and touched 336m subscribers in Jan’21 (v/s 5.5m additions in Dec’20). It retained its top position in active SMS with a 34.3% share (+60bp MoM). The company added a total of 29m active subscribers since May’20. It added 5.9m gross subscribers to touch 345m (v/s 4m additions in Dec’20 and 22m cumulative additions since May’20). The quality of Bharti’s subscribers is reflected in its strong MBB subscriber additions of 5.5m (v/s RJio’s add of 2m), taking up 59% incremental subscriber market share.


RJio slips to second spot in active SMS

RJio added 2m gross subscribers to touch 411m in Jan’21 (v/s 0.5m additions in Dec’20). Gross SMS grew to 35.3% (-10bp MoM). It continues to retain the top spot. RJio’s monthly gross/MBB subscriber addition run-rate has slowed to ~2m for the last six months, with 2m additions in Jan’21 (v/s an average ~7m in FY20). RJio lost 3.5m active subscribers in Jan’21 to touch 325m (largest loss, excluding the lockdown month of Apr’20), with its active SMS at 33.2%.


VIL continues to witness subscriber churn

VIL added 1.7m gross subscribers (additions turned positive for the first time after 14 months), but lost 0.3m active subscribers, taking the total gross/active subscriber base to 286m/256m in Jan’21, thus reflecting bottoming out of the subscriber churn. Market share stood flat MoM in gross/active subscribers at 24.6%/26.2% in Jan’21.


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