Stability in competition helped Vodafone’s India business record nine per cent growth in revenue at £1,125 million (Rs 9,360 crore) in the quarter ended December, against £1,024 million (Rs 8,519 crore) in the year-ago period.
The British company said growth in voice minutes also aided growth in its service revenue. Revenue from voice fell 0.6 per cent to £785 million (Rs 6,531 crore), compared with £790 million (Rs 6,572 crore) in the year-ago period.
The revenue growth was marginally lower than in the previous quarter, owing to the impact of new regulations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). “During the quarter, subscriber verification regulations were changed, leading to a sharp fall in gross customer additions, which resulted in net customer disconnections. Regulation was also introduced to further limit the processing fees operators can charge,” the company said in a release.
According to Trai, the company has about 147 million subscribers.
Regulatory issues also affected the performance of other telecom companies, as subscriber acquisition costs rose due to increased verification. While Bharti Airtel’s revenues, including that from its African business, rose 9.5 per cent year-or-year to Rs 20,239 crore in the quarter ended December, Idea Cellular’s revenues rose 11 per cent to 5,578 crore. In the same period, Reliance Communications’ revenue increased just five per cent to Rs 5,301 crore.
Vodafone said growth in its tower company Indus Towers was low, due to reduced tenancies.
However, there was an increase in revenue, owing to a change in reporting norms. Energy costs charged to operators was included in service revenue for the first time.
Vodafone’s data revenue rose 23.8 per cent sequentially. The company said this growth was driven by an increase in customers opting for data bundles. The price of 2G data usage also rose. As on December 31, the number of active data customers stood at 33.1 million, including 2.5 million 3G subscribers.
Vodafone said it was in talks with the Indian government on possible tax liability on account of its purchase of Hutchinson’s stake in Hutchison Essar in 2007. According to tax authorities, the company owes tax and interest of Rs 14,200 crore.