The country's wireless subscriber base fell to 87.05 crore at the end of September, registering the first drop in five months, after Reliance Communications deactivated services of over 1 crore "unprofitable" users.
According to data released by sectoral regulator Trai, the mobile user base declined 0.70 per cent to 87.05 crore from 87.67 crore at the end of August 2013.
This was the first time after April this year that the subscriber base has declined. In April, the user base fell by 10 lakh.
Reliance Communications (Rcom) lost 1.04 crore users in September. Its subscriber base at the September 2013 stood at 11.62 crore.
As a result of the deactivations, Rcom has slipped to fourth position in the wireless user base in the country with 13.35 per cent market share.
"Reliance Communications has deactivated the services of around 10 million unprofitable, low-end subscribers at the lowest end of the ARPU range, who had not used their phones for over two months. This is in line with the industry practice and has no impact on customer experience or (the company’s) revenues," an Rcom spokesperson said in a statement.
"We continue to focus on improving the contribution from profitable minutes on our network," he added.
The overall share of urban wireless subscribers has declined from 59.98 per cent to 59.75 per cent whereas share of rural wireless subscribers has increased from 40.02 per cent to 40.25 per cent.
The overall wireless teledensity in India has declined to 70.63 per cent from 71.21 per cent of previous month, Trai said. The overall telecom user base (including wireline) also declined 0.70 per cent to 89.98 crore at the end of September 2013 from 90.61 crore at the end of August.
"The number of telephone subscribers in India decreased from 906.18 million at the end of August, 2013 to 899.86 million at the end of September 2013, thereby showing a monthly decline of 0.70 per cent," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said.
The regulator said at the end of September, private operators hold 88.33 per cent of the wireless market share (based on subscriber base) where as BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU operators, hold only 11.67 per cent market share.
In terms of net additions, Idea Cellular added 12.07 lakh users to take its base to 12.72 crore at the end of September. It is now the third largest telecom player in the country in terms of subscribers with 14.61 per cent market share.
Vodafone added 12.05 lakh subscribers during the month and its user base at the end of September stood at 15.55 crore.
Aircel added 6.42 lakh users during September to take its user base to 6.32 crore at the end of the month.
State-run BSNL and MTNL lost 74,566 and 2.32 lakh users respectively during the reported period. The respective user base of the PSU players stood at 9.78 crore and 37.41 lakh.
Tata Teleservices and Sistema Shyam Teleservices also lost 1.43 lakh and 12,690 users respectively. Trai said, in September 2013, 22.9 lakh requests have been made for mobile number portability (MNP).
Broadband subscription base inched up to 1.53 crore in September 2013 from 1.52 crore in August 2013.
"Total broadband subscriber base has increased from 15.28 million at the end of August 2013 to 15.36 million at the end of September 2013, there by showing a monthly growth of 0.52 per cent," Trai said.
The regulator said there are 158 Internet service providers (ISPs) which are providing broadband services in the country as on September 30, 2013.
"Top five ISPs in terms of market share (based on subscriber base) are: BSNL (9.98 million), Bharti Airtel (1.44 million), MTNL (1.10 million), Hathway (0.37 million) and You Broadband (0.33 million)," Trai added.