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Airtel adds 6.9 mn active users in Jan, extends gain: TRAI data

While Bharti and Jio's VLR (active) subscriber counts have remained "neck and neck" in recent months, Bharti's VLR subscriber count shot up to 336 million at the end of January (up 6.9 million month on month), compared to 325 million of Jio (down 3.4 million), UBS report said.

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New Delhi: Telecom operator Bharti Airtel added 6.9 million active users in January, extending its market lead on this count even as Jio’s active subscribers tally declined by about 3.4 million, according to TRAI data.

With this, Bharti’s active subscribers rose to 336 million, most of which was driven by total net adds, thereby indicating the improving quality of user addition, ICICI Securities said in a note crunching January telecom subscription numbers released by the sector regulator, the PTI reported.

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While Bharti and Jio’s VLR (active) subscriber counts have remained “neck and neck” in recent months, Bharti’s VLR subscriber count shot up to 336 million at the end of January (up 6.9 million month on month), compared to 325 million of Jio (down 3.4 million), UBS report said.

Active subscribers declined for Jio after rising in the previous two months — an addition of 3.2 million in December and 5.4 million in November, observed JM Financial note.

“While we cannot definitely conclude, the jump in VLR additions in Nov’20 and Dec’20 could have been driven by migrant workers coming back to cities, the effect of which could have normalised in January 21,” it said.

Going ahead, active subscriber addition would be a key monitorable for Jio, it pointed out.

Active subscribers are calculated based on reported Visitor Location Register (VLR) – the key metric reflects the number of active users on a mobile network.

It is pertinent to mention here that on an overall basis, Reliance Jio continues to be the largest telecom operator in the country with subscriber base of 410.7 million, while Bharti Airtel is second in the pecking order with 344.6 million users as on January 2021.

Although TRAI numbers pegged Vodafone Idea’s total mobile subscriber base at 285.9 million, with net additions at 1.7 million, the company has stated it had found an “inadvertent error” in the subscriber data reported to the regulator, and has now corrected and submitted revised information.

In a clarification posted on company website, VIL said: “We noted an inadvertent error in the subscriber data for January ’21 submitted to TRAI in regular course.”

“We have corrected the same and duly reported the revised data to TRAI,” it added.

The statement by the company came after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) subscriber data for January 2021 showed spike in UP (West) circle.

While the company statement did not divulge details of the error, market watchers said that the fault appeared to be in the subscriber numbers for UP (West), where customer net adds were reported at 3.7 million users for January.

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