From my network of friends and partners I have been receiving an increasing number of queries about what is happening in India and the impact of Reliance Jio. In response to this, let me summarize some facts and figures about the world’s second biggest telecom market by mobile subscribers, and how Jio has started to transform the industry to the benefit of consumers.
Following our green-field build-up and Alpha/Beta test phases, we launched in September 2016 and crossed 16 million subscribers already in the first month of operations. This right there set a world record in customer acquisition and data usage which averaged 1 GB / day. Credit Suisse named Jio with 16k TB / day the largest network globally in terms of data carried, ahead of China Mobile and Vodafone. Our digital apps suite - ranging from self-care to TV and mobile payment - took 8 of the top 10 positions in the app stores.
We crossed 50 million subscribers in 83 days of operations, on-boarding more than 500 thousand new customers every single day. In fact, in the first 3 months, Jio has grown faster than Facebook, WhatsApp or Skype. We made this possible with a fully electronic and automated customer on-boarding process, requiring only fingerprint identification and no single paper transaction. This allows for SIM activation in under 5 minutes, and to provide the best experience for activating customers anywhere in the world. A huge demand for data was uncovered. Jio users on an average were already using 25 times more data than the average Indian broadband user. On the whole, Jio was not only delivering 4 times more data than all other Indian telecom operators combined, but also much faster throughputs than any mobile network in India. By year end 2016, we crossed 72 million subscribers, heading towards our goal of serving 100 million customers.
According to the latest figures of TRAI, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the mobile subscriber base increased month-by-month by 2% to 1,1 billion at the end of November 2016, and 80% of this growth is attributed to Jio. The customer demand and market potential however lies in broadband, which is experienced by only 200 million subscribers. Here Jio makes a difference, and already commands the broadband market leadership in India with 24% market share.
Jio combines the largest 4G spectrum in India, is the only player with pan-India sub GHz frequency - important for good coverage - and has built by far the most extensive, modern all-IP, and 4G VoLTE network. According to Credit Suisse, Jio now provides more than 50% of the industry data network capacity. Recently the same firm studied the data coverage in 30 major cities of India, based on publicly available crowdsourced data. Jio was found to lead by far, with good coverage in 80% of cities, while Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had good coverage in only 10–30% of the cities. In terms of revenue generated, Jio had good coverage in circles accounting for 90%+ of industry revenues, while the share for Airtel/Vodafone was only ~45% of their revenues. Overall it was found that Jio carries 94% of mobile data traffic share in India, while Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular only carry 2% share each, again confirming the demand for high speed data.
What have been market reactions? Initially, the share price of Airtel declined by over 8% on the announcement of the Jio launch, equivalent to a market capitalization of around 1,5 billion USD. Subsequently, Vodafone group lowered the value of its India unit by 5 billion EUR. On product and pricing, Jio has been leading the way and others follow, to the benefit of the consumer. For example, in December 2016 and January 2017, Airtel announced offers with free voice and free incremental data. Competition also started to take note of our extensive digital applications suite and attempts to follow with similar offerings. And on the core connectivity, Airtel has announced to follow Jio with VoLTE in next 12 - 18 months, a technology much superior in terms of broadband and voice experience.
Consolidation in the Indian telecom market has been gathering pace in the past few months, with Videocon Telecom exiting, RCom - Aircel - MTS in the process of a 3-way merger, Telenor stating to seek a solution for its operations in India, and Idea and Vodafone confirming preliminary talks about an all-share merger of Idea and Vodafone India. The latter had posted a 1.9% yoy drop in service revenue in the quarter ended December (vs. 5% yoy growth the previous quarter), on account of losing subscribers and usage to Jio. Bharti India wireless revenue was down 6% qoq, EBITDA down 16% qoq, as posted in their December 2016 quarterly results; Credit Suisse sees the first full-quarter impact of Jio’s launch. On the other side, with the availability of ubiquitous high speed data, digital services such as YouTube have taken a massive boom and for many Indians become usable for the first time. For example, at fourth quarter end, Facebook reported 165 million monthly active users in India, largest in the world after the US. Speaking at its earnings call, Facebook’s CFO said that their growth in Asia was boosted by Jio’s market entry and services.
We keenly look forward to our customer’s and partner’s continued constructive feedback. We use every input to further co-create the best network and customer experience in the world, democratize broadband internet access, and thus enable a Digital India.