INDUSTRY body COAI said on Wednesday that not too much should be read into the drop in mobile subscriber numbers for March, as the reduced numbers are a result of consolidation of multiple, unused SIMs and weeding out of low-usage connections by operators. The comments come a day after data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) showed that the country’s total wireless subscribers fell to 1,161.8 million as on March 31, 2019, shedding 21.87 million users over the previous month. The overall teledensity in India declined to 90.11 at the end of March, from 91.86 in February. Mobile subscriber base of Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel shrunk by nearly 14.5 million and 15.1 million, respectively, as of March over the previous month, while Reliance Jio added 9.4 million users during the period.
Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director General, Rajan Mathews attributed the fall to a combination of factors such as subscribers with multiple SIMs making a decision to move onto one mobile number. Mathews further said that with the roll out of ‘minimum recharge plans’ by operators, many of the low-usage customers may have decided not to continue with multiple connections. Also, the requirement of recharging within a set period to keep the number active may have led to discontinuation of connections, he added.