Airtel chips away at Jio as customer demands shift

Airtel chips away at Jio as customer demands shift

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India’s mobile market is seeing a shakeup of the top players as new data suggested Jio’s dominance could be threatened by Airtel.

OpenSignal’s latest three-month study on the national market demonstrated that although Jio has continued to sweep the board for 4G availability and coverage experience, Airtel is closing the gap in four other customer metrics.

Specifically, these are voice app, video, gaming and download speed experience. For example, Airtel users in Hyderabad clocked the fastest regional download speed experience of 14.5 Mbps, which is almost 40% faster than the national average. Meanwhile, Vi took the top spot for upload speed experience.

According to OpenSignal report author Hardik Khatri, the trend marks a change in the outlook of operators as mobile subscribers seek quality over discount.

Khatri said: “Jio has been doing well in terms of the 4G availability and in terms of coverage, but Airtel is catching up. We have seen investments in Jio and right now they don’t have to pay anymore fines so they could potentially pump a lot of money into their network infrastructure.

“Initially I think Jio had some sort of advantage, but the market was being captured through cut-throat competition, undercutting prices and things like that. Now the dynamics have changed, and operators are focusing more on the quality of experience their users get,” he continued.

The news will no doubt be welcomed by Airtel, which has lost subscribers year to date according to the latest figures from Indian regulator, TRAI. In February, Reliance Jio’s subscriber based stood at 382.82 million, compared to Airtel’s 329.07 million. The June figures, published last week, showed that Jio’s total subscriber base is now 397.24 million, while Airtel’s has dropped to 316.67 million.

Low broadband penetration across the country has traditionally placed greater emphasis on mobile connectivity. Khatri sees this increasing competition in the mobile sector and potentially, further driving the quality of the network experience.

Khatri said: “That way the dynamics are changing. It is going to be a bit different now and hopefully with this competition, the quality of network experience is going to improve in India.”



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