Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Tuesday reported its highest-ever quarterly consolidated revenue, helped by higher tariffs and additions to its 4G subscriber base. The country's telecom operators, grappling with low tariffs due to a price war that ensued after billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio entered the space, hiked prices last year as they were ordered to pay Rs 92,000 crore ($12.44 billion) in dues to the government.
That helped Bharti Airtel's consolidated revenue jump 22 per cent to Rs 25,785 crore during the seasonally-weak second quarter ended September 30.
"The main reason is that they added a lot more 4G customers than we expected... that had an effect on ARPU (average revenue per user)," said Vivekanand Subbaraman, an analyst at Ambit Capital, who was expecting revenue to come in at Rs 25,293 crore.
ARPU or average revenue per user at the country's second-largest telecom operator rose to Rs 162 for the quarter, from Rs 128 a year earlier.
Bharti Airtel's customer base in the country rose 5.2 per cent to 32.06 crore during the quarter, while 4G data customers grew by 1.44 crore to 15.27 crore, the company said.
"There could also be some pent-up demand for 4G as people upgraded their handsets after (coronavirus-induced) lockdowns and that could be one of the key reasons why 4G subscriber additions have been so stellar," Mr Subbaraman said.
Consolidated loss for the July-September period came in at Rs 763 crore, compared with a loss of Rs 23,045 crore a year earlier.
Separately, the company said it would exit the Ghana telecom market and take an impairment charge of Rs 184 crore, with the government of Ghana set to buy 100 per cent shares of Airtel Ghana.