Bharti Airtel on Monday posted a 54 per cent jump in consolidated net profit to Rs 2,442.2 crore in the December quarter, mainly on account of growth in high value customers.
Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters
Airtel prepaid mobile customers are required to pay at least Rs 155 for about a month-long service as the company had raised rates by 56 per cent in January 2023.
Bharti Airtel managing director Gopal Vittal has indicated a need for further increase in mobile services rates.
Return on investment made by the company is still low at 9.4 per cent.
The company had registered a profit of Rs 1,588.2 crore in the year-ago period, a regulatory filing said on Monday.
Despite devaluation of African currencies during the period, the consolidated revenue from operations during the third quarter of the ongoing fiscal grew 5.8 per cent to Rs 37,899.5 crore from Rs 35,804.4 crore in the year-ago period.
“Revenue from India business sustained its momentum and grew sequentially by 3 per cent, while consolidated revenue was impacted by the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira and Malawian Kwacha,” Bharti Airtel managing director Gopal Vittal said in a statement.
The total customer base of Bharti Airtel grew about 8 per cent on a year-on-year basis to 55.1 crore in the December quarter with India customer base growing to 39.7 crore, up 7.5 per cent.
The telecom firm’s Africa customer base grew 9.1 per cent to 15.17 crore while its customer base declined marginally to 30 lakh.
India revenue of Airtel grew 11.4 per cent year-on-year to Rs 27,811 crore during the quarter.
Its Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) — a key parameter for telecom operators growth — in the country increased 7.7 per cent to Rs 208 from Rs 193 a year ago.
“We remain on course with our strategy of premiumisation that helped us add 7.4 million 4G/5G customers and exit the quarter with an industry-leading ARPU of Rs 208.
“Even at this ARPU, our return on capital employed, however, continues to be low at 9.4 per cent.
“To ensure industry health, tariff repair is extremely critical,” Vittal said.
Bharti Airtel’s capital expenditure during the quarter stood at Rs 9,274 crore, comprising Rs 7,756 crore in India and Rs 1,515 crore in Africa.
“We rolled out around 12.3k towers in the quarter to further strengthen our network coverage and provide seamless connectivity.
“We have rolled out about 45k towers in the last 12 months to ensure coverage and connectivity in rural as well as urban areas,” Airtel said.
The company said it added 2.82 crore 4G/5G data customers to its network over the last year and its average data usage per data customer stood at 22 GB per month.
In India, Airtel 4G and 5G customer base increased 13 per cent on a year-on-year basis and 3.1 per cent on quarter-on-quarter basis to 24.49 crore account for 73.3 per cent of its total customer base.
Bharti Airtel India mobile data usage increased 8.2 per cent on year-on-year basis and 1.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 22 GB per customer per month during the quarter under review.
The home business of Airtel, which comprises fixed broadband line service, grew 23 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
The fixed broadband service customer base of Bharti Airtel in India grew 29.2 per cent to about 73 lakh, however, APRU declined 6.5 per cent to 583.
The net debt of Bharti Airtel declined marginally to Rs 2.02 lakh crore from Rs 2.09 lakh crore a year ago.
The company prepaid high-cost debt of Rs 8,325 cr in January, thereby making the total repayment of Rs 16,349 cr in current financial year to the Department of Telecom towards part prepayment of deferred liabilities pertaining to spectrum acquired in the 2015 auction.
The total employee base of the company grew 4.12 per cent to 17,924.