Airtel India has reported 58.08 million mobile Internet connections for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, up 7% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), adding 3.65 million data connections during the quarter. Year on year, it reported a 34% growth from 43.49 million data customers in the same quarter last year.
Of this, around 10.98 million are 3G connections, a 16% increase from 9.49 million 3G connections in the previous quarter and a significant 72% increase from 6.39 million 3G connections in the same quarter last year. In comparison, Airtel’s competitor Idea Cellular had reported 10.2 million 3G connections and 25.3 million mobile Internet connections yesterday, although this doesn’t include ‘incidental data users. It’s not clear whether Airtel takes these users into account or not.
The telco also hasn’t disclosed any specific information on its 4G connection base. In the previous quarter, Airtel had claimed to have crossed the 100,000 mark in the country. Note that Airtel is currently the only telco offering 4G services in India. It offers this service through dongles and routers in four Indian cities. It had launched 4G for smartphones in February this year, although the service is limited to iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C users in Bangalore at the moment.
Airtel had earlier mentioned that it is looking to use the 1800MHz spectrum it acquired in the February 2014 2G auctions, to roll out high speed 4G networks using FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band for a pan-India 4G rollout.
Data usage per connection grew by 11% to 277 MB for the quarter, up from 249 MB in the previous quarter and up 48% from 187 MB in the same quarter last year. This led to a higher data ARPU of Rs 79 for the quarter, up 5% from Rs 75 in the previous quarter and up 43% from Rs 55 in the same quarter last year.
In comparison, Idea Cellular had reported a data ARPU of Rs 104 and data usage of 410 MB per connection, although note that Idea Cellular had removed ‘incidental data users’ from its mobile data user base which had helped in the significant bump up of the telco’s mobile data ARPU and mobile data usage.
Airtel mentions that 28.3% of its total customer base were active data users during the quarter, as compared to 27.4% in the previous quarter and 23.1% in the corresponding quarter last year.
Other Data Related Numbers
– The data traffic in India increased by 20% to 46.69 billion MBs during the quarter, up from 39 billion MBs in the previous quarter. Globally, data traffic grew significantly by 95.1% to 54.6 billion MBs for the quarter, up from 28 billion MBs in the corresponding quarter last year.
– The data realisation per MB declined by 6% to Rs 0.284 for the quarter, down from Rs 0.301 in the previous quarter.
– Airtel has deployed 3,122 new 3G sites during the quarter and currently has 31,301 active 3G sites by the end of the quarter.
– Data as a percentage of total revenue increased to 11.1% for the quarter, up from 10.3% in the last quarter and a significant increase from 6.5% in the same quarter last year.
– The global mobile data revenues increased by 93.4% to Rs 1,900 crore for the quarter, up from Rs 1,736 crore in the previous quarter.
Airtel’s data initiatives during the quarter
– Airtel had launched Pocket TV that allows its digital TV subscribers to watch live content from over 150 channels on their phones for a monthly fee of Rs 60. The service seems to be powered by Digivive and is currently available on Android, with an iOS version expected soon.
– Airtel had launched data bundle for Samsung Galaxy S5 and other Samsung devices as part of the Singtel-Samsung partnership.