Vodafone India, the country’s second largest mobile operator, reported a solid increase in revenue for fiscal H1 as data revenue continued its double-digit climb despite lower data pricing due to intensifying competition.
Service revenue for the first half of its fiscal year ending 30 September increased 5.9 per cent to INR226 billion ($3.37 billion), with growth slowing to 5.4 per cent last quarter from 6.4 per cent in Q1. The operator said the slowdown was mainly driven by lower data revenue growth resulting from increased competitive pressure. Voice revenue increased 2.7 per cent in Q2, which was an improvement from Q1.
Data revenue growth during the period slowed from 22 per cent in Q1 to 16 per cent in Q2 due to slowing data user growth quarter-on-quarter, reflecting the impact of ‘free’ promotional offers from new entrant Reliance Jio. Data pricing fell 14 per cent year-on-year, while data usage per customer continued to grow strongly, increasing 28 per cent to 504MB a month.
Its active data customer base ended the period down slightly at 69.6 million, but it added more than 13 million mobile subscribers over the past year to take its total past 200 million. Its 3G/4G customer base expanded 51 per cent to 36 million, and smartphone penetration is now 35 per cent.
Vodafone added 4,100 3G sites in H1, taking its total to 63,000. It also now has 13,000 4G sites. The company said during the spectrum auction in October it increased its total spectrum holding by 62 per cent, paying INR203 billion (€2.7 billion) to extend its 4G footprint from nine to 17 sevice regions.
Vodafone Group booked a €5 billion non-cash charge against its operation in India, reflecting rising competition in the world’s second largest mobile market. The group plans to proceed with an IPO of its Indian unit “as soon as market conditions allow” but doesn’t expect this to take place during the current financial year ending 31 March.
Its parent company’s overall H1 revenue fell by 4 per cent to €27 billion. Organically, revenue grew by 2.3 per cent. The loss for the financial period was €5 billion, due to the writedown, compared with a loss of €2.3 billion in the year ago period.