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Jio has five times as many 4G subscribers as Airtel — report

jioReliance Jio has crossed the 5 cr subscriber mark, which gives it a market share of around 10% among cellphone users in the country.

Though India has a total of around 80 cr subscribers on paper, due to multiple and dormant connections, the actual cellphone users is estimated to be around the 50 cr or 500 mln mark.

PTI reported that Jio has cross the 50 mln 4G subscribers in India, which is several times higher than the total number of 4G subscribers with Airtel, or Idea Cellular or Vodafone.

Airtel has an estimated 10 mln 4G subscribers and Idea around 3 mln.

Jio’s 4G tally is possibly higher than the total number of 4G subscribers with the three incumbent operators too.

FASTER THAN EXPECTED

If the 50 mln (5 cr) number is correct, it would mean that the Mukesh Ambani firm is growing faster than its rivals expected.

In October, Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal had estimated that Jio is likely to reach 4 cr (40 mln) subscribers by the end of December. The subscriber addition would start dropping off after that due to the lack of 4G-supporting handsets after that, the Airtel CEO had said in the context of explaining the company’s quarterly results.

However, with 50 mln already crossed, there is a chance that the Ambani firm could upset the calcuations of the incumbent operators.

SILVER LINING

However, there is also ray of hope for the incumbents in the form of the switch-over from free to paid services.

Despite reports to the contrary, Jio will start charging for its services on Jan 1, and at this point, one could expect a decline of around 30% in its active subscribers.

Assuming that there are around 60 mln subscribers at the end of December, only around 40-45 mln are likely to continue to use the service on a paid basis after the Dec 31 deadline for various reasons.

Many bought Jio SIM primarily for free data, and such subscribers are unlikely to recharge for data given that the company’s bigger data plans are actually more expensive compared to those offered by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

While the older three operators offer data at the rate of around Rs 55-70 per GB, Jio charges 66 to 75 per GB under its bulk schemes.

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