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Industrial Products India, Industrial Manufacturers & Suppliers


Bharti Airtel loses to Vodafone

Bharti Airtel loses to Vodafone, Idea Cellular in customer nos

Vodafone and Idea Cellular added more customers in April relegating Bharti Airtel, India's leading mobile phone company by revenue and customers, to the third spot, according to the latest subscriber growth numbers by theCellular Operators Association of India, the industry body representing GSM operators. 

Vodafone's Indian unit added over 1.4 million customers last month, more than double the 0.6 million that Airtelmustered. Idea also stole a march over the Sunil Mittal-promoted telco, adding over 1.3 million subscribers last month. Bulk of the GSM market expansion took place in category B & C circles. Bharti Airtel did not reply to ET's specific query on why the company lost out to Vodafone India and Idea in terms of net customer addition last month. 

Vodafone recently overtook Bharti to become India's leading mobile phone company in rural India, having added 4.9 million rural customers in February and March, compared with 2.6 million added by Airtel in the same period. Executives at Vodafone India recently attributed its successful rural expansion strategy to a customised distribution model aimed at shoring up sales in rural pockets. 

Like Vodafone, Idea too has maximised customer growth in rural and semi-urban zones across category B & C circles. Company executives in fact, claimed that two out of every three new customers come from rural India, which had induced the telco to push 3G data services in the agricultural heartlands villages. Idea, in fact, has over 22 million data users, a majority of whom reside in rural and semiurban pockets. 

Though Bharti Airtel remains India's biggest mobile operator, its market share has shrunk marginally from 28.5% in March 2013 to 28.4% in April. 

Vodafone and Idea, on the contrary, have increased market share, buoyed by last month's customer additions. Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular that account for nearly 67% of the telecom sector's revenues, collectively added 3.3 million customers last month. 

But latest COAI data reveals GSM operators across India added 3.5 million customers in April, which is a tad below the 5.4 million additions in March. COAI director general Rajan Mathews attributed the phenomenon to the fact that "bulk of the new GSM activations transpired in category B & C circles, which are typically harder to penetrate".


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