Bangladesh’s ban on social media two weeks ago has reduced data consumption on Robi Axiata’s network by almost 30 per cent and will cut revenue by around 3 per cent, the operator said.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) banned Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WhatsApp after the country’s high court upheld the death sentence of two men convicted of war crimes during the independence struggle against Pakistan in 1971.
Robi CEO Supun Weerasinghe noted the impact on its future financials during a press conference announcing its Q3 results.
Its EBITDA in Q3 fell slightly to BDT4.83 billion ($61 million) year-on-year. Revenue increased 10 per cent to BDT13.4 billion as its customer base expanded 13.6 per cent to 28.4 million.
ARPU declined 9.5 per cent over the past year to BDT142 ($1.80). Data accounted for 10 per cent of service revenue, which was the same as in Q1. Smartphone penetration rose to 17 per cent from 8 per cent a year ago.
The operator boosted capex 58 per cent to BDT1.03 billion during the first nine months of the year.
Meanwhile Robi’s proposed merger with Bharti Airtel’s local unit, which has a 6.8 per cent share, was sent by the BTRC to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for review, which would take several months, bdnew24.com reported.
Weerasinghe said it could take up to a year to complete the entire process.
Robi is the country’s third largest operator, with a 22 per cent market share and 24.8 million connections, according to GSMA Intelligence. The combined company would pass Bangalink, with a 25 per cent share, to become the number two player, behind market leader Grameenphone, which has a 42 per cent share.
Robi and Airtel announced in September they were discussing merging.