Bharti Airtel registered profit and revenue gains in its fiscal Q2 2023 (ending 30 September), driven by ARPU growth in its India operations as it added post-paid and data users.
Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO for India and South Asia, noted in an earnings statement the operator was bullish on the prospects for 5G to deliver innovation to the nation.
But he explained Bharti Airtel was concerned about a low return on capital employed the business delivers due to pricing that is the lowest in the world.
“Given the large investments required to drive digital adoption in India we believe there is a need for tariff correction.”
Nevertheless, Vittal noted Bharti Airtel “delivered yet another quarter with competitive revenue growth and improved margins”.
Domestic mobile service revenue was up 24.8 per cent year-on-year to INR189.6 billion ($2.3 billion), led by continued 4G subscriber growth and ARPU which was 23.7 per cent higher at INR190.
Mobile subscribers grew 4.3 million to 327.8 million, with LTE users growing 9.2 per cent to 210.3 million.
Average monthly data usage increased 8.9 per cent to 20.8GB.
It deployed nearly 70,000 LTE base stations in the year to end-September for a total of 787,500.
Revenue from its Africa operations increased 19 per cent to $1.4 billion, driven by a 7.4 per cent increase in ARPU to $3.10 and a 9.7 per cent rise in subscribers to 134.7 million.
Voice revenue was up 12.7 per cent to $642 million and data 24.3 per cent to $461 million.
Average monthly data consumption increased 33.4 per cent to 4.6GB.
Airtel Money revenue rose 32.3 per cent to $177 million, with active customers up 24 per cent to nearly 30 million.
The number of broadband base stations reached 99,154, around 14,000 higher.
Airtel business revenue increase 16.8 per cent to INR46.6 billion on demand for data and connectivity related services.
Net profit grew 89 per cent to INR214.5 billion, with revenue rising 21.9 per cent to INR345.3 billion.
In fiscal H1 2023, capex remained at INR135.5 billion, with 85 per cent allocated to Indian projects.