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The logo of Reliance Jio, the mobile network of Reliance Industries Ltd., is displayed at a store in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Reliance Industries, India's biggest company by market value, posted a 13.5% jump in quarterly net income as growth in telecom and retail business helped outweigh a slump in petrochemical operations. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up its December Telecom Subscription Data which states that Reliance Jio recorded a fall of around 20 lakh wireless subscribers in Punjab and Haryana in December 2020 amid farmers’ protest.

The report has come up with an interesting finding that the number of telephone subscribers in India decreased from 1,175.27 million at the end of November, 20 to 1,173.83 million at the end of December 20, registering a monthly decline rate of 0.12%.

State-run BSNL has also increased subscribers in both Punjab and Haryana in December. Reliance Jio was the only large telco to lose subscribers in both Punjab and Haryana.

Farmer protest

In Punjab, Reliance Jio’s subscribers stood at around 1.25 crore in December, compared to 1.4 crore in November 2020. In Haryana, Jio wireless subscribers fell to 89.07 lakh in December from 94.48 lakh in November.

The farmers’ protest, Jio lost over 15 lakh subscribers in Punjab, as its number of customers in the state reduced from over 1.4 crore in November 2020 to less than 1.25 crore in December, the data showed. Similarly, in Haryana, its subscriber base fell from 94.48 lakh in November to 89.07 lakh in December.

The protestors, who have been agitating since November, believe that the new laws will aid big corporate houses like Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, Jio’s parent company. In total, the company lost more than 20 lakh subscribers across the two states.

Government intervention

Another report says, there are as many as 1,500 Jio mobile towers were vandalised allegedly by those protesting against the new farm laws, amid concerns that the reforms will lead to corporate exploitation of the farmers.

Then in January, Reliance Industries had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking government intervention into the matter.

The company, in its petition, claimed that Reliance has no plans to enter the contract farming business, one of the provisions under the farm laws. The petition also said that the company, which is into retail business as well, will insist on its suppliers to procure produce from farmers at the Minimum Support Price.

According to the TRAI report, urban telephone subscription decreased from 648.60 million at the end of November 20 to 648.60 million to 647.91 million at the end of December 20 and the rural subscription also decreased from 526.67. million to 525.92 million during the same period. The monthly decline of both urban and rural telephone subscription were 0.11% and 0.14% respectively during the month of December 20.

As per Arvian Research TRAI report states that TRAI points out the overall tele density in India also decreased from 86.56 at the end of November 20 to 86.38 at the end of December 20. “It is interesting to note that the share of urban and rural subscribers in total number of telephone subscribers at the end of Dember 20 was 55.20% and 44.80% respectively. The decline in tele density is primarily because of Covid-19 pandemic related economic slump and this situation will change during this year as economy is showing certain amount of resilience,” states the Arvian Research.

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