India’s telecom subscriber base crossed the 1.1 billion mark in October, registering highest customer addition of around 29 million in a month, driven by Reliance Jio.
As per the latest data released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), October also saw increase in landline subscriber base that had seen continuous decline in connections after incoming calls were made free in 2003, shifting growth from wireline to wireless telephony.
“The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,074.24 million at the end of September 2016 to 1,102.94 million at the end of October 2016, thereby showing a monthly growth rate of 2.67 per cent,” Trai said in a monthly report. Such high customer addition was earlier seen in February 2011 when the subscriber base increased to 826.25 million from 806.13 million in January 2011.
The growth in October 2016 was led by mobile telephony, which saw addition of record 28.68 million customers in a month. “Total mobile subscriber base increased to 1,078.42 million at the end of October 2016 from 1,049.74 million at the end of September 2016 , thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 2.73 per cent,” Trai report said.
The new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm added 19.63 million alone in October taking its total subscriber base to 35.61 million. It was followed by Idea Cellular which added 6.33 million mobile customers during the reported month.
Telecom major Bharti Airtel added 2.32 million new customers, state-run BSNL –1.18 million, Vodafone –1.17 million, Telenor –406,865, Aircel –203,182, MTNL –7,725 and Quadrant (Videocon) –3,007.
Tata Teleservices lost 1.35 million mobile customers, Reliance Communications 992,901 and Sistema Shyam 258,555 customers in October.
The growth in wireline segment was led by state-run public sector firm MTNL firm which added 25,307 new connections.
“Wireline subscriber base increased from 24.49 million at the end of September 2016 to 24.52 million at the end of October 2016. Net addition in the wireline subscriber base was 0.02 million with a monthly growth rate of 0.10 per cent,” Trai said.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone too added 11,032 and 6,175 new customers. BSNL, however, lost 14,564 landline customers, Tata Teleservices –2,594, Sistema Shyam –650, Quadrant –503 and RCom –79.
The number of broadband subscribers increased to 218.42 million at the end of October, as against 192.30 million in the previous month - up 13.59 per cent. Top five service providers constituted 80.36 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers in October.
In October, 4.92 million requests were made for mobile number portability taking the total number of requests to 244.3 million at the end of October 31, 2016.
Set Top Box interoperability on top of Trai’s agenda for 2017
Broadcasting regulator Trai hoped it would be able to implement Set Top Box interoperability this year to protect the interests of consumers who seek to change their service provider.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman R S Sharma held a meeting with leading broadcasters today and discussed the issue of interoperability of Set Top Boxes (STBs), among others.
Speaking after the interaction, Sharma said that Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) has done quite impressive work on the issue of technical interoperability.
"I think we are nearing a solution to having an interoperable STB. That is one of the items on the agenda this year," Sharma said.
Interoperability means that STBs which are provided to a household by a DTH or cable operator would continue to function even if the consumer moves to another service provider.
The Trai chairman said it was decided that the "friction points" in the broadcasting industry would be discussed and consultations in this direction would be held after which TRAI may come up with recommendations.
Sharma said that another issue which came up for discussion was that there should be more studies and data related to the broadcasting sector for better understanding.
The development of a portal for recording details of service providers was also discussed. It is learnt that some broadcasters suggested according "infrastructure status" to the sector.
Some broadcasters brought up the issue of certain carriage services by bodies linked to state governments, a practice against TRAI guidelines. Several other issues related to regulatory aspects and guidelines, including over-the-top content in broadcasting, were discussed in the meeting.