Indian operator Vodafone Idea’s net loss widened in its fiscal third quarter (calendar Q4 2019) as it continued to lose millions of subscribers and booked exceptional costs stemming from an adverse court decision.

Net loss of INR64.4 billion ($902 million) compared with a loss of INR50.05 billion a year earlier. It recognised INR528 million in exceptional items from its estimated liability in spectrum and usage charges.

Operating revenue fell 5.7 per cent to INR111 billion.

The company shed 83.2 million mobile subscribers to end 2019 with 304 million, 104 million of which were 4G users, a 38.4 per cent increase.

Ravinder Takkar, MD and CEO, said the company continues to actively engage with the government seeking relief from the large fees levied by the Supreme Court.

He said it remains focused on rapid network integration, and expanding 4G coverage and capacity in key markets, noting tariff increases in December 2019 should further help improve revenue performance going forward.

Takkar said Vodafone Idea completed network integration in 86 per cent of the districts where it operates, substantially reducing costs by removing surplus equipment from about 58,000 sites out of a total 73,000 co-located sites by the end of 2019. It also exited about 17,000 low-utilisation sites.

Blended ARPU increased 22.5 per cent to INR109. Average data usage per subscriber increased to 10.7GB from 8.8GB at end 2018.