A woman speaks on a mobile phone at a refugee camp in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar October 7, 2008. (Representative image: Reuters/Parth Sanyal)

Over 56 Million Indians Stopped Using Phones in May 2020 Due to Covid-19: Report

A woman speaks on a mobile phone at a refugee camp in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar October 7, 2008. (Representative image: Reuters/Parth Sanyal)

Telecom subscribers in India reportedly declined by 82 lakh users in April 2020, and continues to decline further in one of Covid-19’s long lasting effects.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: September 9, 2020, 5:19 PM IST


Mobile phone and landline users in India reportedly declined further by over 56 lakh users in May 2020, after an estimated decline of 82 lakh users in the preceding month, claims a report by market analysis and research agency, India Ratings & Research. According to its latest digest on the telecom market published earlier this week, the number of telecom subscribers in India, including both mobile and fixed line users, have continued to decline as one of the many long lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report, however, indicates that the decline in India’s mobile and landline telecom users, including users of wired and wireless internet services, has slowed down in the more recent months, in comparison to the decline in the initial months of the nationwide lockdown imposed as a result of the pandemic.

According to India Ratings, the decline in telecom users was heavily contributed by the movement of India’s migrant labourer force back to their native towns and villages in the initial months of the pandemic. As a large section of India’s workforce either lost employment or faced declines in average earnings, the telecom sector appears to have taken an even further hit as users may have looked to cut down on additional expenses. India Ratings’ market report is also corroborated by the monthly subscriber reports published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as well.

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According to TRAI’s monthly reports, India saw a decline of about 85 lakh telecom subscribers in April 2020, followed by a second decline of almost 58 lakh users in May this year. As per TRAI data, the decline in India’s telecom user base started in March after growing steadily through February 2020. This clearly coincides with the timeline of when the Indian government imposed a nationwide lockdown to stifle the Covid-19 pandemic, which in turn caused many industries to come to a screeching halt.

In the cut-throat telecom sector, Reliance Jio continues to lead the market in terms of both revenue and market share. While Bharti Airtel has held on to its second position in the market, the third telecom operator in India, Vodafone-Idea, finds itself in increasingly troubled conditions. It recently rebranded itself as Vi, and aims to raise funds in order to remain in business. Recent reports have suggested influx of foreign investors for the troubled operator, but no announcements have been made so far.

Going forward, it will be interesting to observe if the decline in telecom subscribers continue. India Ratings’ market analysis suggests that this decline may at least continue in the immediate future, beyond which it needs to be observed if the decline will be a long-lasting affair, or if the industry manages to bounce back as industries begin reopening.

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