TRAI data: Mobile b'band subs get over DeMon in December 2016

MUMBAI: This is good good news for the those in the OTT/SVOD/App ecosystem. According to the latest telecom subscription up to 31 December 2016 released by the Telecom Regulatory Authoriy of India (TRAI), Indian consumers quickly got over the demonetisation hiccup – at least as far as subscribing to mobile broadband, and dongles are concerned.

Growth at 8.89 per cent has come back in the December month with the total number of mobile broadband subscribers rising to 217.36 million from 199.61 million subs earlier.

This increase has come about primarily due to Reliance Jio’s relentless drive to build a user base: it had 72.16 million mobile broadband users, whereas Bharti Airtel (43.56 million), Vodafone (35.02 million), Idea Cellular (27.04 million), and BSNL (20.36 million) followed.

Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November 2016. In that month, the number of users of broadband via mobile and dongles fell by 0.14 per cent from 199.91 million to 199.61 million. Probably, their woes in depositing the old notes and getting cash for themselves kept them preoccupied.

In the months prior to that (October and September) subscription growth for wireless broadband and dongles was running at double digits at 14.97 per cent to 199.91 million and 13.31 per cent to 173.87 million.

Reliance Jio accounted for 52.23 million (November), 35.94 million (October), and 16 million subs (September). Bharti Airtel’s figures for the same period were 41.90 million, 46.22 million, and 44.25 million respectively. Whereas the numbers for the respective period for Vodafone were (34.87 million) (40.19 million) and (35.93 million) and for Idea Cellular were (28.40 million) (29.76 million) (30.72 million).

We will have to wait and watch whether the media blitzkrieg and broadband offers by Idea and Bharti Airtel which commenced a month or so ago will help slow down the uptake of Reliance Jio and swing subscribers back towards them. For Reliance Jio, of course the challenge remains how to convert the large number of free subscribers it has signed on into paying ones.

As of a month or so ago, it had limited the daily bandwidth consumption to 1 GB at 4G speeds, following which data speeds drop. But users don’t seem to be complaining as they are quite hopeful that the free offer will continue courtesy the largesse of Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani beyond 31 March 2017.

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