Reliance Communications top gainer in subscriber additions in April

Reliance Communications, the telecom firm from the Anil Ambani group, emerged as the operator with the highest number of subscriber additions during April this year, according to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The company beat Vodafone, which held the top-spot during March, as well as others like Idea and Bharti.

According to TRAI’s numbers, Reliance accounted for nearly 19.2% of all the new telecom subscribers of April, up from 17.5% of all the new subscribers in March.

Idea was a pretty distant second with 16% of all the new subscribers added in April choosing the network. It was followed closely by Bharti and Vodafone, both of which captured 15-16% new subscribers.

Among the new operators, the best performer was Uninor, which lapped up 9.5% of all the new subscribers. In comparison, it had just 6% of all the new subscribers added in March.

BSNL, which has 11.1% of the total market and therefore should have around that much share of the new subscribers, instead could manage just a measly 1.1% of the new customers of April.

In all, nearly 1.53 crore new subscribers joined the networks in April, less than the 2 crore subscribers who signed up during March.

Due to consistent failure to get its due share of new customers, Bharti Airtel shrunk its total market share from 21.7% in April 2010 to 19.9% in April 2011. Similarly, Reliance’s share fell from 17.5% of the total market to 16.5% over the same period, while Vodafone’s share of the Indian market shrunk from 17.3% to 16.6%.

The biggest gainer is Uninor, moving from just 0.8% of the market a year ago to 2.9% in April.

These numbers, however, tell only part of the story as not all of the subscribers are actual users. Many of them are ‘ghost’ users as they may have discarded the SIM due to lack of network etc.., but will still be counted as a subscriber for between 3-12 months.

For example, the actual ‘switched on’ users during April was just 58.2 crore, around 70% of the total subscribers claimed by the operators. It was 57.4 crore during March, indicating that during April only 0.9 crore of real addition took place, instead of the 1.5 crore nominal addition in subscribers.

Idea had the highest proportion of ‘switched on’ users at 92.9% followed by Bharti with 89.5% and Vodafone, with 80.8% and Reliance with 63.6%. Tata had only 48.7% of its subscribers active while Uninor had 54.8% switched on in April.

Adjusted for the ‘switched on’ factor, Reliance could claim 12.2% of all new additions, while Idea could claim the top spot with 14.86% of the total new additions.