Grameenphone, the largest mobile operator in Bangladesh, recorded healthy growth in data revenue and subscribers in the third quarter, but suffered a double-digit profit decline and weakening ARPU.

CEO Michael Foley said it continued to deliver a solid business performance in the quarter despite a very challenging regulatory environment. In addition to continued growth in voice revenue, he highlighted strong growth in data revenue and usage, with 53.7 per cent of its total sub base now data customers.

The number of data users rose 11.8 per cent year-on-year, while data ARPU increased 3.3 per cent. Overall, the operator added 4.3 million subscribers in the year to end-September for a total of 75.7 million. Its 4G sub base reached 11 million, up from less than 4 million in Q3 2018.

However, net profit in the recent period fell 13.8 per cent year-on-year to BDT7.27 billion ($85.8 million), which the company said was due to the impact of unspecified one-off charges.

Revenue rose 6.6 per cent to BDT36.6 billion, driven by a 17.3 per cent increase in data revenue to BDT7.8 billion. ARPU dipped 1.9 per cent to BDT158.

Its network capex of BDT2.1 billion in Q3 was lower than projected due to a number of government restrictions, including cutting back its bandwidth over a long-running tax payment dispute. Capex was BDT4.6 billion.

In the first nine months of 2019, the operator installed 1,800 4G base stations to take the total to 9,300, boosting LTE population coverage to 69 per cent at end-September.

The operator said its tax contribution during the period totalled BDT61.4 billion, representing 57 per cent of total revenue.