The Telecom Churn: Vodafone Idea loses rural connect, Jio is urban king
While Jio has consistently added new subscribers (net addition) every year since its launch, Airtel has been able to contain porting out with porting in and new subscribers as they take up smartphones.
Vodafone lost out, not so much in the immediate years after Jio’s entry, as much after the pandemic. In fact, Airtel and Jio added a similar number of net new customers from September 2020 to September 2021, eating into the subscriber base of Vi with nearly equal force.
Chart 1 also shows consolidation of the telecom industry from multiple to three players, and the relatively elastic subscriber base of state-run telecom companies, BSNL and MTNL.
But where did Vi take the hit: in villages or in cities? VI lost its customers from rural India, where it was the leader in 2019.
When VI’s rural wireless consumer base was close to 200 million in September 2019, Airtel and Jio had not touched 150 million.
In cities, Vi has been able to keep its base intact from 2020 to 2021, and that must have been a relief for the company. Jio has made a strong mark in cities as opposed to rural areas, most of the urban surge happening prior to the pandemic.
Vi still has more than 130 million subs each in rural and urban India.