As at March 2024, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) reported that telecom subscribers in India had reached 1.199 billion. The country hit 1 billion mobile subscribers in 2015 and has added roughly 199 million subscribers since then.

1.199 billion subscribers is a staggering figure for people resident in other countries. But you must remember that the country of India has a population of 1.44 billion people.

Telecom Subscribers in India 2024

Telecom Operators in India and their marketshare

There are five main telecom operators in India, namely: Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi), BSNL, and MTNL. Their subscriber share is as follows:

  1. Reliance Jio (39.69%)
  2. Bharti Airtel (32.95%)
  3. Vodafone Idea (19.25%)
  4. BSNL (7.94%)
  5. MTNL (0.17%)

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are the two dominant mobile operators in the country. Between them, they have over 70% of telecom subscribers in India. In the past, there were as many as 12 active operators in the country.

The largest mobile network in India

Reliance Jio is now the largest mobile network in India, with over 400 million subscribers. This also makes it the 3rd largest wireless operator in the world, after China Mobile in first place with over 900 million subscribers, and Bharti Airtel whose operations in multiple countries add up to give it second place. Its India operations alone puts it behind Reliance Jio.

Jio does not operate any 2G and 3G networks. The operator kicked off services in 2016 with a 4G LTE network only. It launched 5G services in key cities in October 2022.

The brands that telecom subscribers in India love and use

With 1.19 billion subscribers, India is the second largest mobile market in the world, behind China which is in first place. With such a large subscriber base, what phones are the most popular in India? Which phone brands do telecom subscribers in India use the most?

According to CounterPoint and StatCounter, Xiaomi is the top phone brand in India in 2024. In second and third spots are Vivo and Samsung, respectively. Xiaomi taking the top spot is no surprise; the company is known for selling some of the most value-packed budget smartphones, especially in the line-up of its Redmi sub-brand. Budget models like the Redmi Note 13 series, Redmi 13C, and Redmi A3 are popular in India and elsewhere.

Other strong players in the top ten spots are Realme, OPPO, Apple iPhone, OnePlus, Motorola, and TECNO. India is the market that every brand wants to play on now, so there are many more brands operating in the country, many of which do not have significant market share. They include Lava, Nokia, and Google Pixel, to mention a few.

The Indian smartphone market is one of the most vibrant and most colourful in the world. Often, you will see manufacturers offering the widest selection of their phones in India, as well as launching Indian-specific phone models.

But some experts say that the telecom subscribers numbers in India has leaked and that the market is now saturated. Datum Intell shared a November 2023 report in which they said that the market was peaking “around 1.143 billion connections as of March 2023”. The report also stated that “mobile phone connections in the last five years from the peak of 1.176 billion connection in 2017”.

However, as we have seen, there has been some addition of about 23 million telecom subscribers in India above the 2017 figure. Just perhaps the Indian mobile phone market is yet to peak. Time will tell.

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By Mister Mobility

Nigeria's foremost tech blogger and smartphone reviewer. Call me Daddy.

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