Jio to become India’s No 1 telecom operator by 2021: Bernstein report

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd could become the country’s No 1 telecom operator by revenue in 2021 and on a subscriber basis by 2022, a Sanford C Bernstein & Co report said.

Reliance Jio started operations two years back with free voice calls and data offering. It started to charge for data – voice calls to be free-for-life – last year and had amassed about 227 million subscribers to rank third largest telecom operator in the country behind Vodafone-Idea combine and Bharti Airtel Ltd.

Given the current rate of ongoing customer acquisition, we think Jio could reach the leading position on a revenue basis by 2021 and on a subscriber basis by 2022,” Bernstein said. “We are now convinced Jio’s relentless subsidy of JioPhones will continue until this goal is realised.”

Jio, the report said, will continue to add significant customer numbers as they continue to subsidise their JioPhones. Jio has consistently been adding 6 to 10 million new active customers per month. “While not specifically disclosed, our understanding is that most of these additions are due to customers taking a highly subsidised JioPhone.” 

The company sells 4G JioPhone for a refundable deposit of Rs 1,500.

Jio’s entry into telecom sector triggered a price war and consolidation in one of the world’s most crowded mobile markets. Its free introductory nationwide 4G wireless service started in 2016, instantly roiling the world’s largest telecommunications sector after China’s.


Jio currently has a 16 per cent revenue and subscriber market share. Bharti Airtel has 31 per cent revenue market and 26 per cent subscriber market share. Vodafone-Idea has 42 per cent revenue market share and 37 per cent subscriber market share.

By end of 2020-21, Jio would have clocked 34 per cent revenue market share at the expense of Vodafone-Idea and Bharti Airtel’s whose share may decline to 31 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

By 2021-22, Jio would have 32 per cent of the subscribers as the share of Vodafone-Idea would dip to 31 per cent. Bharti Airtel would have a share of around 27 per cent, it said.

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