Airtel Trumps Vodafone Idea to Become 2nd-Largest Carrier in India: TRAI

Airtel to launch low-cost 4G phone in India

Airtel went past Vodafone Idea in February to become the second-largest mobile telecom operator in India. According to latest data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the company added 9 lakh subscribers in February. Vodafone Idea, meanwhile, lost 34 lakh subscribers during the same period. Reliance Jio retained its number one position, adding over 62 lakh subscribers during the month.

Another operator that increased its subscriber count during February was the State-owned BSNL. It added around 4 lakh subscribers as the overall wireless market increased from 156 crores to 160 crores. The other state-owned operator, MTNL, lost around 5,000 subscribers during the same period. Meanwhile, wireless subscription in urban areas fell from 64.4 crores to 64.3 crores during February. Subscription numbers in rural areas, on the other hand, increased to 51 crores during the same period.

Overall, the the top-five carriers accounted for 98.99 percent of all mobile subscribers at the end of February. Jio led with 32.99% market share, while Airtel, Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL came in with 28.35%, 28.05%, 10.32% and 0.29%, respectively. In aggregate terms, market leader Reliance Jio had over 38.2 crore subscribers at the end of February. Bharti Airtel had 32.9 crore subscribers, followed by Vodafone Idea (32.5 crores), BSNL (11.9 crores) and MTNL (34 lakh).

It is worth noting that Airtel was once the leading wireless carrier in the country before the emergence of Reliance Jio and the merger of Vodafone Idea relegated it to the third spot. However, now that the company is back in the top two, it will be interesting to see if it will be able to wrest back its pole position from the Mukesh Ambani-led behemoth.

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