When it comes to the telecommunication industry in India, we have four key players. Namely- Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and BSNL. Out of these, the former two are the behemoths in terms of technology, subscribers, revenue, and profitability. This creates a challenging situation for folks as they wonder- Which is better, the Jio or Airtel network? Are you also tangled in this uncertainty? If yes, then don’t worry! Go through this write-up to know the winner in the battle of Airtel vs Jio.
A Brief History
If you are a smartphone user, then you must be familiar with the internet revolution that occurred in the year 2016. Do you remember how Jio distributed free sim cards and offered unlimited 4G internet and voice calls? India held a grand welcome for the arrival of 4G with the introduction of Jio. Not only did we get an affordable internet but got free voice calls but also an advanced e-commerce system!
Airtel, being one of the oldest telecom networks of India was not behind either. How could it bear the monopoly of a newcomer i.e. Jio? So, it launched similar affordable 4G plans too! Vodafone and Idea went through the same path too but later merged as a single entity. Airtel and Jio had a large user base which made them tough competitors of each other.
From that time onwards, Airtel vs Jio became a common topic of debate in Indian households. They continue to offer alluring internet plans and value-added services to expand their loyal customer base.
Now, let’s peep into their history.
Bharti Airtel, founded in 1995 by Sunil Bharti Mittal, is an Indian telecommunications company. It started as a small company offering push-button telephones and grew rapidly with the liberalization of India’s telecom sector. Airtel became the first Indian telecom company to provide mobile services nationwide. Over the years, it expanded globally, entering several African and Asian markets. Airtel is now one of the world’s largest mobile network operators, providing a wide range of telecommunications services and digital solutions to millions of customers worldwide.
Reliance Jio is an Indian telecommunications company that was launched in 2016 by Reliance Industries. It revolutionized the Indian telecom sector by offering affordable 4G data services and free voice calls. Jio’s entry disrupted the market, leading to a significant increase in internet penetration and data usage in India. It quickly gained millions of subscribers and became the country’s largest mobile network operator. Jio’s success also prompted the consolidation of other telecom players and the introduction of competitive pricing plans across the industry.
Airtel vs Jio: A Quick Comparison
The following table provides some essential data that will help you to analyze which company has a stronger foothold in the telecom industry- Airtel or Jio
|Key Aspects||Bharti Airtel||Reliance Jio|
|Market Capitalization||Rs.4,83,000 crore||Rs.16,91,000 crore (Reliance’s Market Cap)|
|User Base||36.88 crore||42.61 crore|
|Customer Market Share (March 2023)||32.27%||37.28%|
|Revenue||Rs.1,39,144.8 crore||Rs.98,099 crore|
|Profitability||Rs.8,346 crore||Rs.19,124 crore|
|Basic Services||Postpaid, Pre-paid, International Roaming, Data Connectivity, Airtel Airtel Xstream Fiber Broadband Services, DTH services||Postpaid, Pre-paid, International Roaming, Data Connectivity, Mobile broadband, Jio Fiber, Jio Business, Jio Branded Devices, Jionet Wi-Fi, JioPhone, eSIM|
|Value-added Services||Airtel TV+, My Airtel App, Yolo Hub, Airtel Jobs Portal, etc.||Jio Tunes, JioTV, JioSaavn, etc.|
|Roaming Services||180+ Countries||100 Countries|
|DTH (Direct-to-Home) Segment||Over 500 channels||Over 600 channels|
|5G Speed||Download Speed: 1085 Mbps|
Upload Speed: 138 Mbps
|Download Speed: 837 Mbps|
Upload Speed: 119 Mbps
|5G Services (First Launched in cities)||Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Varanasi, and Gurugram||Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Varanasi|
|New Business Ventures||Airtel Xstream (OTT Platform)||JioMart (Online shopping store)|
Takeaway from the Comparative Analysis
As you can see from the above table, Bharti Airtel has beaten Reliance Jio in terms of revenue. But Jio earned more profits in FY23 as compared to Airtel. Jio was the first one to work on the 5G services in India. But later, Airtel’s 5G speed and quality surpassed that of Jio. Did you already get the answer about who is the winner in the Airtel vs Jio battle? If yes, then wait! Because the above table was all about the services they offer and their position in the market. We can’t declare the winner just based on that! Why? You may ask. Because both Airtel and Jio face numerous challenges throughout their journey. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the comparative analysis of Airtel vs Jio to know which one is doing better.
Airtel is already an established player in the telecom industry but Jio is a newcomer. It is worth noting that a 28-year-old company faced tough competition from a 7-year-old company. You know what I am talking about! That’s Jio vs Airtel. The former rapidly gained market share through alluring offers and aggressive marketing strategies. While the latter created a loyal consumer base through network expansion and seamless services. Both companies are heavily investing in technologies to offer 5G networks and better OTT services to survive the competition. As per the data of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), Reliance Jio has a greater market share i.e. 37.28% than Airtel 32.27%.
1. Impact of hiked Adjusted Gross Revenue
Airtel & Jio were enjoying their duopoly until our government intervened! The Indian government introduced numerous policies and tightened the regulations that were not much appreciated by the telecom giants. For instance, our Supreme Court upheld the new definition of the Government’s AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue).
It hiked the terms of license fees and spectrum charges. As a consequence, telecommunication companies have to pay an increased amount of fee to the government. Guess who will be ultimately affected by this decision of the government? The common folks! We, the ordinary citizens of India will face the momentum of a hiked AGR. How? You may ask. See, the high AGR will make it difficult for telecom companies to offer low-cost plans while maintaining profits.
Although it may seem like a loss for us, we must trust the government. Because there must have been genuine reasons for hiking the AGR. The government was deprived of the revenue from telecom companies. It created humongous financial implications for the companies as well as the government.
So, both Airtel and Jio are under the same depth of water when it comes to the impact of Adjusted Gross Revenue.
2. Lack of Infrastructure for 5G Services in India
We all were highly anticipating 5G services in India. If you are residing in metro cities, then you may have 5G services by now. But that won’t be the same case if you reside in tier-2 or tier-3 cities. Do you know the reason behind it? Lack of infrastructure! Yes, we are still in the developing phase of the 5G network and many remote parts of India don’t even have a proper 4G network.
This is the major challenge faced by the 5G players- Airtel and Jio. Also, the devices required for a 5G network are quite expensive. Therefore, only a handful of the Indian population have 5G services. Jio had already begun to test its 5G network by setting the infrastructure. It launched 5G services in four cities whereas Airtel launched it in 8 cities.
Airtel vs Jio: A Dilemma for Investors
Investors have been facing a dilemma due to significant differences in the ownership structure of Airtel and Jio. Look, Airtel is an age-old company that you are seeing in your childhood. It is a standalone telecom company listed on the stock exchange of India. Being an investor, you can purchase the shares of Airtel directly. But that’s not the same case with Jio. Why? Because, unlike Airtel, Jio is not an independent entity. It is a subsidiary of Ambani’s empire i.e. Reliance Industries. Jio is a part of the conglomerate- Reliance. So, if you want to benefit from the market performance of Jio, you have to purchase the shares of Reliance Industries. And the stocks of Reliance Industries depend on various subsidiaries of the conglomerate.
So, which is suitable for investors?
Well, it depends on the type of portfolio you want to build. If you are specifically interested in the telecommunications industry, then Airtel is better for you. Because of being purely a well-established telecom company, it offers complete transparency to its shareholders. You will get a real-time track of Airtel’s financials and performance. The scenario is different for a newcomer like Jio because it is a subsidiary of Reliance. If you want to diversify your portfolio, then you can go for Reliance stocks.
Final Words: Who is the winner?
Now here comes the declaration part. The fierce battle of Airtel vs Jio is full of numerous innovative technologies, challenges, offers, market shares, etc. As per recent updates, Reliance Jio was more profitable as compared to Airtel. But the latter earned more revenue than the former. Both companies are in cutthroat competition to provide the best services to their customers to become a monopoly in the telecom industries. See both companies have their SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Both are winners in different segments of operations. When it comes to the user base, Jio is a ladder up in the battle. But when it comes to revenue collection, Airtel is the winner. So all of it depends on your perspective.
By the way, which SIM do you use or prefer? Airtel or Jio? Comment down below and share your experiences!