Idea Cellular, India's third largest telecom service provider, reported Rs 815.9 crores net loss in the first quarter of FY18 ended June 30, 2017. This is the third quarter net loss in succession, following the launch of Reliance Jio services, which impacted Idea's voice and data revenues in India.
For Idea, the fall in realisation rates was largely compensated by a substantial volume growth in both mobile voice and data segments. Idea's revenues marginally increased 0.5% to Rs 8166.5 crore in the quarter but declined 13% on a yearly basis.
The Aditya Birla Group company, in a statement, said that the upheaval in the Indian wireless industry continued in the quarter, despite the new entrant (Reliance Jio) slowly migrating from ‘Free Services’ to ‘Paid Services’ but with heavily discounted unlimited voice and data pricing plans.
Amidst this market aggression, existing operators including Idea also introduced similar competitive unlimited price plans, which
is likely to result in a decline in industry revenues, although the impact of the same is expected to be more pronounced on non-4G operators.
"These aggressive tariff offerings by Idea, led by unlimited voice and data bundled plans, resulted in the steep decline of voice and mobile data realisation rates," the telco said.
During the quarter, the sequential quarterly voice minutes grew by a healthy 8.4% to 250.7 billion minutes (vs. 231.4 billion minutes in Q4FY17), while the voice realisation rate fell by 5.7% to 24.4 paisa/min (vs. 25.9 paisa in Q4FY17).
Mobile data volume witnessed a growth of 99.1% on sequential quarterly, and its 4G network carried 252.8 billion Mega Bytes in Q1FY18, nearly double the traffic consumption in Q4FY17. However, the mobile data rate (ARMB) saw an unprecedented decline of 52.9%, reaching to as low as 5.4 paisa/MB (vs. 11.5 paisa in Q4FY17).
In spite of the current challenging industry scenario, Idea has been successful in sustaining its market competitiveness and added 15.8 million VLR subscribers over last 12 months, taking the EoP subscriber base (VLR) to 199 million as of 30th June 2017.
Idea Cellular maintained its ‘Subscriber Market Share’ (VLR) at 19.5% (May’17) and ‘Revenue Market Share’ @ 18.9% (FY17).
EBITDA for the company during the quarter declined by 11.5% to Rs. 18,753 million compared to Rs. 21,199 million in Q4FY17, largely due to higher operating cost related to roaming and access (as outgoing minutes increased) and network expenses. The EBITDA margin for the quarter declined from 26.1% in Q4FY17 to 23% in Q1FY18.
Idea said that the full quarter impact of spectrum acquired in October 2016 resulted in ‘Depreciation & Amortisation’ charge increasing to Rs 2067.9 crore and ‘Interest & Financing Cost (Net)’ rising to Rs 1153.8 crore. Q1FY18, the Company received from Indus dividend of Rs. 2,657 million.