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Idea Cellular – both voice and data prices down in Q1

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Idea Cellular reported a decline in both per-minute voice rates as well as per-MB data rates for the first quarter.

While the decline in per-minute voice income was because of lower roaming charges and a cut in termination charges, the decline in data prices was because of competition, Idea said.

“Due to increased competition, the blended data ‘Average Realisation Per MB’ (ARMB) has sharply fallen,” it said.

Data price fell to 24.6 paise per MB from 25.7 paise in the preceding three months.

However, more worrying is the fact that per-head usage did not grow as it used to.

Typically, Idea’s per-customer data usage jumps every quarter.

This time, an average 3G data user consumed 778 MB per month compared to 777 MB in the preceding quarter. In the quarter before that, the number was 705 MB and 693 in the quarter before that.

Including 2G, however, per-head consumption rose to 599 MB in Q1 from 586 MB in the preceding quarter and 470 MB in the quarter before that.

“The net mobile data customer base has risen in this quarter by 3.7 million to 37.2 million, with 22.9% of overall Idea subscriber base using Idea 2G or 3G platform to access internet,” Idea said.

The 3G subscriber base for the company has grown by ~90% over last one year, now servicing overall 16.7 million 3G data customers.

Even though around 42 mln subscribers of Idea’s have 3G devices, only 16.6 mln of them have activated 3G data, the company’s numbers revealed.

On a sequential quarterly basis, Idea’s gross revenue was up by 4.5%, primarily driven by a) 4.4 million active subscribers addition, b) expansion of voice minutes at the rate of 5.8% clocking 195.8 billion minutes and a 15% Mobile data (2G+3G) volume growth to 62.7 billion Megabytes.

To support this exponential Voice & mobile data growth, Idea capex spend in Q1FY16 is Rs. 1,367.4 cr (excluding spectrum, Interest & exchange rate difference capitalization). In comparison, RCom spends only around that much on its network in a year.

It added 3,208 2G sites, 3,330 3G sites and ~1,700 km of OFC network.

At consolidated level including 16% of Indus contribution, the gross revenue in Q1FY16 has grown by 16.4% to Rs. 87,983 million, the EBITDA at Rs. 32,284 million grew by 28.9%, EBITDA margin improved by 3.6% to 36.7% and Q1FY16 PAT at Rs. 9,308 million, a growth of 27.8% (v/s Q1FY15).

Since 2010, in the last 4 spectrum auctions, with a commitment of Rs. 483,616 million for spectrum, Idea has managed to improve its spectrum portfolio from 101.8 MHz (March 2010, excluding 7 cancelled licenses) to 270.7 MHz. The company is slated to launch its Kolkata 3G services by end of this calendar year.

Idea said it has initiated multiple steps towards introduction of 4G LTE services on 1800 MHz spectrum band in 10 service areas of Kerala (10 MHz), Maharashtra & Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana, North East, Tamil Nadu and Orissa (5MHz each), in a phased manner from calendar year 2016 onwards.

The company is also in the process of revisiting its existing Value Added Services offering and intends to introduce its own range of ‘Digital Services’ across various categories like entertainment, information, communication, utilities and API services etc. in next financial year.

VOICE PRICE HIT

The TRAI reduced mobile incoming call charges from 20p to 14p/min and impacted Idea’s revenue by about Rs 3,170 million (compared to Q1FY15).

The Voice rate realisation remained under pressure and fell sharply by 11.2% to 32.9p/min, including the impact of TRAI regulation changes and increase in service tax rate, but the elasticity of demand compensated the rate decline with 18.5% minute growth in Q1FY16 vs Q1FY15. However, because of mobile data growth the blended ‘Average Realisation per Minute’ (ARPM) was lower by only 1.3% to 44.5p/min in Q1FY16 from 45.1p/min and the ‘Non-Voice’ revenue share increased to 26.1% this quarter.

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