In Rural Telephony Too, Jio Has Maximum Presence, Airtel The Least

For rural telephony, Reliance Jio has installed highest number of telecom towers where as Airtel has the lowest number and in last three years, while Reliance Jio has expanded its services to over 3 lakh villages, Airtel has just added little over 2000 villages

Within a short span of just two years, Reliance Jio has been able to take a leadership role in the Indian Telecom space, and is being considered as the leader in offering 4G services – the latest and most popular service Indian consumers are consuming across the nation at this moment.

And it was not by a fluke. The company has built its infrastructure – rural as well as urban – meticulously as well as on such a scale that its services can reach out to every person in the country. As per a recent report by Ookla, as of December 2018, Jio’s 4G services are available in 99.3% of the country’s location making it the leader in Indian telecom space.

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019(Till Nov)
Firm No. of Villages No. Of Towers No. of Villages No. Of Towers No. of Villages No. Of Towers
BSNL 416882 39694 427445 41508 430934 43239
Airtel
507676
91027
509203
93122
510362
96032
Vodafone
376771
75708
378891
74815
471693
101704
Jio
180049
92156
394041
168891
485297
263755
Idea
388339
73396
386968
73002
471693
101704

However, there is a very interesting piece to their success. Contrary to popular perception, Reliance Jio’s rural telephony infrastructure footprint is much better than its decade old competitors like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and even BSNL – the state owned operator that is being touted as the life line of rural population.

As per a recent government data, Reliance Jio, on an average, has installed a telecom tower in every second village as against one in ten villages by BSNL. All other operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have put up a telecom tower in every fifth village.

At the end of November, 2018, Reliance Jio had 2,63,775 telecom towers installed in 4,85,297 villages where it has offered services whereas Airtel had just 96,032 towers in rural areas covering 5,10,362 villages. Similarly Vodafone Idea cover 471693 villages with 101704 towers. BSNL, the state-run operator, covers 430934 villages with just 43239 telecom towers, a report tabled in the parliament revealed.

It is also interesting to know that Reliance Jio has expanded its rural telephony presence at a much faster than its competitors like Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL.

In the year 2017, Jio’s services covered 180049 villages and by the end of November 2018, the Mukesh Ambani-led firm has reached out to 485297 villages. Compare that to Airtel – its services were present in 507676 villages by March 2017 and by November 2018, it extended its services to close to another 3000 villages taking the total tally of 510362 villages. Vodafone Idea, the biggest telco now by number of subscribers, was present in 388339 villages by March 2017 and by November 2018, it was present in 471693 villages, extending it to 83354 villages in last three years.

Summing it up, in last three years,

-Airtel has extended to 2686 villages

-Vodafone Idea has extended to 83354 villages

-BSNL has extended to 14052 villages, and

-Jio has extended to 305248 villages.

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