Reliance Jio Infocomm has announced that it has no plans to raise the tariffs as it is already witnessing robust growth in its subscriber base with the current prices along with constant revenue growth, reported ET Telecom. With that announcement, it is clear that Vodafone Idea Limited and Bharti Airtel which are the major players in the industry apart from Reliance Jio are going to have a hard time in recovering their revenues back to the normal levels. Furthermore, it’s also said that Jio’ subscriber base will cross 300 million mark by the end of March 2019 or this financial year.
Reliance Jio Announces No Plans of Slowing Down and Increasing Revenue
In Jio’s post-fiscal third-quarter earnings meet, many analysts present from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citi Research said that the company executives have made it clear that customer acquisition remains Reliance Jio’s top priority even though it has attained nearly 24% subscriber market share and 26% revenue market share in the Indian telecom industry. The earnings meet was held on Thursday this week.
A Goldman Sacha analyst who was present at the meet said in a note, “Jio has said it will not tinker with tariffs and risk disrupting the strong subscriber (growth) momentum as its focus in the near term remains on adding subscribers.” The brokerage further added that “revenues would stay stagnant for incumbent telcos (read: Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel) until Jio reaches its earlier stated target of 400 million subscribers”.
Reliance Jio Subscribers to Cross 300 Million Mark Soon
Going by the analysts’ words, Reliance Jio’s subscriber base is estimated to reach the figure of 302 million by the end of FY19 judging by the pace of its current customer addition which seems to be somewhere near 9-10 million per month. In comparison to that, Bharti Airtel had 342 million subscribers by the end of November, whereas, Vodafone Idea had 421 million subscribers. However, Bharti Airtel’s subscriber base has remained mostly stagnant or has been dwindling. On the other hand, Vodafone Idea has been losing subscribers rapidly.
Another brokerage firm, Credit Suisse said that Jio’s move to separate its tower and fibre firms into a separate entity which will be able to take investment would bring down the debt levels of the company. This move further strengthens the case that the telecom operator does not plan to raise tariffs any time sooner.
CLSA, another brokerage said that in the first half of 2019 Reliance Jio is likely to sign a deal which will take a big chunk out of the $25 billion debt off of Reliance Jio’s. However, industry experts have asserted that Reliance Jio is not likely to chase customers the way it did in the past two years given its subscriber growth and stable revenue numbers. It is worth noting that if Reliance Jio had decided to increase tariffs, then the incumbents would have a chance to improve their revenues but with Reliance Jio keeping its eyes on subscriber growth; the plan doesn’t seem to be going well for the incumbents.
Incumbents Remain Under Widening Losses
In the upcoming reports, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea both are expected to report losses again, as per an ET poll whereas Reliance Jio has had its fifth consecutive profitable quarter with a 65% on-year jump to Rs 831 crore in its December quarter bottom line while operating revenue climbed 51% on-year to Rs 10,383 crore.
According to the experts, Reliance Jio is going to keep its prices the same way until it stops trailing in comparison to the other telcos in the category A and metro circles, the geographies which account for a whopping 53% of the telecom industry’s adjusted gross revenue or ‘AGR’.
Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.