Over 450 million users stuck in a limbo as Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL fight to survive
VodafoneIdea, BSNLand MTNLtogether account for almost 40% of mobile subscribers.
- Since the arrival of Jio,
Vodafone Ideahas lost over 100 million subscribers, with over 36 million of those leaving the network in November 2019.
- If Vodafone Idea goes down, the Indian telecom sector will effectively become a duopoly with Jio and Airtel controlling a significant majority of the market.
On one hand, Vodafone Idea is fighting for its survival after the Supreme Court directed it to pay its AGR dues worth ₹53,000 crore. Added to that, the merged entity has not been spending on its network, leaving its customers frustrated. Those who continue to use the services are also wondering if the crisis might affect their connections.
On the other hand, state-run BSNL and MTNL are facing an acute crunch of staff after more than 90,000 employees opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) offered by the Modi government.
According to the latest numbers released by TRAI, Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL have more than 450 million wireless subscribers, accounting for almost 40% of India’s total wireless subscribers.
The common theme in complaints of subscribers of these companies is that either the network is down or that it is unreliable. While Vodafone Idea users often complain about network issues, many of them are porting out of the network in frustration.
@VodafoneIN Good riddance Vodafone, ported to @JioCare . Thanks @VodafoneIN for all these years of pathetic network… https://t.co/GCNIHMcM2Z— Shishir Tripathi (@Shishir_SD) 1578989251000
BSNL and MTNL users have been reporting that their connections are either dead or the speeds are too low. Some of these users are even stating that their issues are a direct result of the employee responsible taking VRS.
@BSNLCorporate Broadband Bill paid online 4 days back. BSNL is saying bill pending. Office people are not helping.… https://t.co/2cxVMO2EtB— Ajay (@iamkumar_ajay) 1582622054000
Vodafone Idea is hemorrhaging subscribers
But more recently, the company has stopped competing with Jio and Airtel when it comes to new features. While Jio and Airtel have been offering services like eSIM and VoWiFi for a while now, Vodafone Idea hasn’t even talked about it.
While eSIM or VoWiFi are not essential features, their absence on Vodafone’s network suggests that it has more important issues to deal with right now. Latest numbers released by TRAI reveal that Vodafone is hemorrhaging, losing over 36 million subscribers in November 2019.
The mass exodus of employees at BSNL and MTNL has severely affected users of landline as well as wireless subscribers.
The acute staff crunch has meant that customer complaints of landlines going dead or the wireless internet speeds being very low are not being addressed appropriately.
With the future of Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL hanging in the balance, there are only two choices left in the market – Jio and Airtel.
If Vodafone Idea goes out of business, Jio and Airtel will end up controlling a significant majority of the market, allowing them to raise prices without any repercussions.
Most recently, Jio announced a price hike of up to 40% after its rivals Airtel and Vodafone Idea increased prices. Since then, the company has also reduced the validity of its annual plans by up to 8%, which forces users to recharge for an extra month now.
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