The Telegraph
Thursday , January 30 , 2014
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Bharti profit doubles
Revenue from data a big boost

New Delhi, Jan. 29: Bharti Airtel’s net profit has more than doubled to Rs 610 crore in the third quarter ended December, the first increase in four years, indicating that the worst may be over for the industry.

The country’s largest telecom operator had posted a profit of Rs 284 crore in the year-ago period.

Profit, which had declined for 15 straight quarters, got a boost from the growth in mobile data revenue and better realisation from voice services.

Bharti Airtel shares erased initial gains and fell 1.52 per cent to Rs 301.65 at the close on the BSE today.

Total revenues rose 13.3 per cent to Rs 21,939 crore from Rs 19,362 crore in the same period of 2012-13.

The margin of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, or EBITDA, was 32.3 per cent during the quarter against 29.8 per cent a year ago.

Consolidated mobile Internet revenue more than doubled to Rs 1,736 crore from a year earlier and accounted for over one-third of the overall incremental revenue.

Data contributed 10.3 per cent to the earnings from mobile services in India compared with 5.7 per cent last year.

“Our focus on superior Internet experience has resulted in increased data adoption and use. Data is now a huge source of revenue growth,” Airtel joint managing director and CEO Gopal Vittal said.

The company said the data customer base in India increased 31.2 per cent to 54.4 million and use per customer rose 54.4 per cent, leading to a doubling of total data traffic.

The increase in total data consumption led to higher data average revenue per user (ARPU) of Rs 75. The overall ARPU, including voice services, rose to Rs 195.

Airtel had increased mobile Internet rates by about 25 per cent last year and reduced benefits under certain schemes by about 50 per cent. For voice services, too, the company has cut back on discounted minutes, helping to increase realisations.

Voice service realisation per minute improved 1.96 paise to 37.13 paise during the quarter and total minutes on the network increased 5.9 per cent to 255 billion from 240.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Vittal said realised voice service tariffs were about 30-40 per cent lower than listed rates.

“There is still enough headroom for cutting discounted minutes, that is something we will continue to look at,” Vittal said during a conference call. He ruled out increasing headline tariffs in the near future.

An improvement in the quality of customer acquisition resulted in a lower churn rate, which now stands at about 2.7 per cent, Vittal said.