It looks like Reliance Jio’s stronghold on the telecom market is slowly loosening as Airtel has managed to add more subscribers for a second straight quarter. Bharti Airtel outpaced Reliance Jio’s net subscriber additions by a wide margin, with Airtel adding 14.2 Mn subscribers from October-December 2020. In the previous quarter, Airtel had seen a net addition of 13.9 Mn subscribers, as compared to Jio’s 5.2 Mn and 7.3 Mn subscribers respectively in the preceding two quarters.
Even in terms of revenue, Airtel has been doing well with 32.4% growth in mobile revenue and 61% improvement in EBITDA for the quarter. Average revenue per user rose 23% from the past quarter to ₹166, while 4G services accounts for 54% of the total subscriber base. These are all numbers that match or outperform Reliance Jio.
Jio Platforms reported a net profit of INR 3,489 Cr in the third quarter (Q3) of the financial year 2021. This has represented a 15% hike compared to INR 3,020 Cr reported in the second quarter. During the same time period, the average revenue per user (ARPU) also increased to INR 151 per subscriber per month versus INR 145 in Q2.
Jio Platforms consolidated revenue from operations, including access revenues, of INR 19,475 Cr in Q3 representing a 5.3% on the quarter increase, with an EBITDA margin of 43.6%. The company also achieved an annualised operating revenue run-rate of $10 Bn.
Telecom subscriber revenue growth is lower for Jio, since the company also counts revenue from home broadband services, while Airtel has taken a revenue hit due to international roaming revenues plummeting in 2020 because of the pandemic. Nevertheless both companies would be looking at the 5G as the next big play.
Last week, Airtel announced that it became the first telecom service provider in India to successfully “demonstrate and orchestrate” live 5G services. The demonstration took place in the city of Hyderabad, where the company used its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (non-standalone) network technology to concurrently run 5G and 4G network within the same spectrum block.
The company believes that demonstration has validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains — Radio, Core and Transport — and underlined its technological capabilities.