India’s Bharti Airtel reported a strong gain in its net income for the quarter ending 30 September driven by mobile data growth, although its African division used up more red ink.

The operator said its Q2 consolidated mobile data revenue, which increased in all regions, leapt 50 per cent year-on-year to hit INR38 billion ($584 million).

Its customer based grew 11.1 per cent in India (hitting 235 million mobile customers) and 13.3 per cent in Africa (80.8 million).

For the quarter to 30 September 2015, group revenue rose by 4.3 per cent to INR238 billion. Net profit increased 10.1 per cent to INR15.23 billion.

EBITDA margin for the period rose 0.8 points to 34.7 per cent from a year ago.

On a pretax basis, profit fell 23 per cent to INR23 billion compared with the same period in 2014, which the company attributed to a rise in net finance costs. The company said adverse currency movements also resulted in losses of INR8.09 billion – almost four times larger than a year ago.

Strong gains in India
India again led growth, with overall revenue up 10.3 per cent to INR174.5 billion and mobile service revenue up 12.3 per cent. The growth was slowed by the recent reduction in termination rates.

Data revenue surged 60 per cent to INR28.9 billion as its data customer base in India increased 27.2 per cent to 51 million. Data now accounts for 21.5 per cent of mobile revenue, up from 14.5 per cent a year ago.

While overall ARPU in India was down 6 per cent from the previous quarter to INR140, data ARPU rose 27.8 per cent to INR193 year-on-year and 6.6 per cent from Q1.

The company said it has launched 4G services in 334 cities and towns in India.

African development
Africa revenue, at constant currency and adjusted to reflect tower disposals, grew by 4 per cent year-on-year to $1.02 billion. But Airtel’s net loss widened to $170 million from $124 million year ago.

Data revenue grew 40.6 per cent to $138 million as its data customer base expanded by 29.4 per cent to 14.3 million.

Data ARPU increased to $3.40 from $3.10 in the corresponding quarter last year. Data revenue accounted for 13.5 per cent of overall Africa revenue compared with 10.1 per cent a year ago.

Its active Airtel Money customer base grew 59.3 per cent year-on-year to 8.4 million.