Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel has reported consolidated revenue of INR205.2 billion (USD2.9 billion) for the three-month period ended 31 December 2018, up from INR203.2 billion a year earlier. EBITDA for the period was INR63.1 billion (down 16.9% year-on-year), whilst net income declined to INR862 million from INR3.1 billion in December 2017 and INR5.0 billion twelve months before that. Airtel attributed the declining performance to ongoing pricing pressure in the Indian mobile segment, noting that most of its other segments recorded revenue growth during the period. Its Digital TV Services and B2B Services units in India both recorded y-o-y revenue growth of 7% – to INR10.3 billion and INR31.1 billion, respectively – whilst its Tower Infrastructure Services operations generated revenue of INR17.3 billion in the period under review (an increase of 2% y-o-y), and revenue from its Sri Lankan unit grew by 12% annually to INR1.1 billion. Turnover from Airtel’s Africa division, meanwhile – now further separated into three sub-groups, ‘Nigeria’, ‘East Africa’ and ‘Rest of Africa’ – grew to INR59.0 billion from INR51.3 billion a year earlier.
In terms of subscribers, the group reported a consolidated total of 403.7 million customers, down from 448.0 million three months earlier but up from 394.2 million at end-2017. The bulk of the swing was again attributed to its Indian wireless division which, after growing from 290.1 million in December 2017 to 332.8 million in September 2018, dropped sharply to 284.2 million three months later. Offsetting the decline somewhat, mobile subscriptions across the group’s 14 African markets grew by 16.4% y-o-y to 97.7 million. Despite the setbacks in its domestic market, the operator has reported some successes in India’s mobile market, having more than doubled its 4G subscriber base over the last twelve months from 36.4 million to 77.1 million. Similarly, average data use has shot up to around 10GB per month, from roughly 5GB in the year-ago period. Mobile ARPU in India also appears to have turned a corner, rebounding to INR104 for the most recent quarter, having fallen from INR123 in Oct-Dec 2017 to INR100 in Jul-Sep 2018.