Feb-18: Mobile broadband numbers increase as wired internet subscribers decline


BENGALURU: The total number of broadband internet connections have increased by about eight per cent in the calendar year 2018 (year started 1 January 2018, CY-2018) until 28 February 2018 (Feb-18) as per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data. The period under review in this paper is the period between 1 January 2018 and 28 February 2018. CY-2017 closed with 362.87 million (36.287 crore) broadband connections as on 31 December 2017. The total number of broadband connections in Feb-18 was 392.06 million (39.206 crore). Broadband internet growth in the country was driven by mobile (phones and dongles) internet services which had about 8.5 per cent subscriber growth and closed February 2018 with 373.94 million (37.384 crore) subscribers. TRAI defines broadband internet speed as download speeds equal to or exceeding 512 kbps. TRAI data has been rounded off to the nearest 10,000, hence the accuracy of this report is limited to that extent.

During the period under consideration, wired internet subscriber numbers declined 0.8 per cent to 17.72 million (1.772 crore) from the 17.86 million (1.786 crore) subscribers reported at the end of December 2017 or as at 1 January 2018. Fixed wireless (WiFi, Wi-Max, point-to-point radio and VSAT) subscriber numbers also declined 9.1 per cent during the period to 0.4 million (0.04 crore) from 0.44 million (0.044 crore).

Among the top five internet players, Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel (Airtel) showed the highest growth rate during the period under review at about 13 per cent. However, in absolute numbers, it was Mukesh Ambani’s biggest startup in the world – Reliance Jio Infocomm or Jio that added the most number of subscribers in the two months of the current year at 17.04 million or 1.704 crore. During the period, Airtel added 9.15 million (0.915 crore) broadband internet subscribers.

The top five service providers in India as on 28 February 2018 constituted 94.99 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers. These service providers were Jio (177.13 million, 17.713 crore), Airtel (80.24 million 8.024 crore), Vodafone (55.54 million, 5.554 crore), Idea Cellular or Idea (38.52 million, 3.852 crore) and BSNL (21.00 million, 2.1 crore).

While the first five players saw a growth of subscribers during the period under review, the government-owned BSNL or Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has been losing them. BSNL had 21.95 (2.195 million) broadband subscribers and lost about 0.95 million (0.095 crore) subscribers or de-grew by over four per cent.

Top five wireless broadband internet players

As mentioned above, broadband wireless aka mobile internet players have been the broadband internet subscriber numbers’ growth drivers. As on 28 February 2018, the top five wireless broadband service providers were Jio (177.13 million, 17.713 crore), Airtel (78.07 million, 7.807 crore), Vodafone (55.54 million, 5.554 crore), Idea (38.52 million 3.852 crore) and BSNL (11.71 million, 1.171 crore).

Here also, Airtel has reported the largest growth in percentage terms – it grew by about 13 per cent, while Jio had the highest growth in absolute numbers – Jio grew by 17.04 million (1.704 crore) during the first two months of 2018. BSNL has been bleeding wireless broadband internet players during this period. It lost about 0.86 million (0.086 crore) subscribers or de-grew by approximately nine per cent.

Top five wired broadband internet players

As has also been mentioned above, wired internet subscriber numbers have declined during the first two months of 2018. As on 28 February 2018, the top five wired broadband service providers were BSNL (9.30 million, 0.93 crore), Airtel (2.17 million, 0.217 crore), Atria

Convergence Technologies or ACT (1.30 million, 0.13 crore), MTNL (0.88 million, 0.088 crore) and Hathway Cable & Datacom (0.75 million, 0.075 crore).

The top five wired internet players in the made up over 81 per cent of the total wired internet subscribers in India. Their share has grown during the period under consideration despite a slight drop in share in Jan-18. Except for BSNL and the other government-owned player Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited or MTNL, the other three players among the top five have grown the number of wired broadband internet subscribers. BSNL lost about 80,000 subscribers while MTNL lost about 30,000 subscribers during Jan-Feb 2018. The other three players among the top five have added about 60,000 subscribers (added about 20,000 subscribers each) during the period under review.

Among the other wired broadband internet players, besides the five mentioned above, are television multi system operators (MSOs) and local cable TV operators (LCOs). The numbers provided by TRAI indicate that while during the period under review, the top five wired broadband internet players lost about 50,000 subscribers, the total number of wired broadband internet subscribers fell by about 0.14 million or 140,000. This means that the other players have lost about 90,000 subscribers.

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