Reliance Communications (RCOM) has reported 28.6 million mobile Internet connections for the quarter ended June 30, 2014 (Q1-FY15), following a reclassification of a Mobile Internet user as one that has used at least 1 MB over GPRS/3G during the period. This follows a similar move by Airtel last month and Idea Cellular last quarter.

The telco’s mobile data connection base grew by 7.1% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) from 26.7 million (reclassified) connections in the previous quarter.

Prior to the reclassification, RCOM had reported 37.4 million data connections in the previous quarter, which means that as many as 10.7 million mobile Internet connections in the previous quarter had used less than 1 MB.

3G Connections

Following this reclassification, RCOM’s 3G connection base was at 13 million for the quarter, up 8.33% QoQ from 12 million 3G connections (reclassified) in the previous quarter.

Note that RCOM had reported 12.9 million 3G connections in previous quarter, which means that around 0.9 million 3G connections in the previous quarter had used less than 1 MB. The company claims to have largest 3G connection base in the industry, however we’re not sure whether RCOM classifies its EVDO data card users as 3G users or merely “data users”.

In comparison, Airtel had reported 12.53 million 3G connections during the quarter, while Vodafone reported 10 million 3G connections and Idea Cellular reported 10.6 million 3G connections during the quarter.

RCOM notes that it currently offer 3G services in all 13 circles where it has 3G spectrum. It also recently launched 3G services in five additional circles including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh (East) through inter circle roaming agreements (ICR) in April this year.

Data usage per subscriber shoots up due to reclassification

This reclassification has also helped RCOM to bump up its mobile data usage per customer. It has improved to 666 MB per connection, up from 648 MB (reclassified) in previous quarter. Prior to this, RCOM had reported mobile data usage of 455 MB in the previous quarter.

In comparison, Airtel had reported data usage of 495 MB per connection for the quarter, while Vodafone’s average data usage per connection was at 238 MB and Idea Cellular’s data usage per connection was at 409 MB for the quarter.

Data Numbers

– 2G mobile Internet connections was at 15.6 million for the quarter, up from 14.7 million in the previous quarter.
– 11.8% of RCOM’s total connections are on 3G, and around 45.5% of RCOM’s total data customers are on 3G.
– Data traffic on its network has increased to 55.3 billion MB, up 10% from 50.25 billion MB in the previous quarter, and up 78.1% from 31.05 billion MB in the same quarter last year. This was due to increase in data subscribers and higher data usage per customer.
– Non-voice accounts for 24.1% of RCOM’s wireless telecom revenues for the quarter, up from 23.5% in the previous quarter.
– RCOM has 3G coverage in 334 towns across India and it has 11,659 3G sites across the country, same as 11,659 sites in the previous quarter. This has remained constant for the last few quarters.

Tie-up with Reliance Jio: During the quarter, Reliance Communications inked a master services agreement with Reliance Industries’ data services venture Reliance Jio Infocomm, allowing the latter to share RCOM’s city fibre infrastructure across the country for its 4G services. This is the third infrastructure sharing deal between RCOM and Reliance Jio Infocomm, after a Rs 1,200 crore fibre optic network infrastructure sharing deal in April 2013 and a Rs 12,000 crore worth tower sharing deal in June 2013.

Also read:

– Reliance Communications’ CS Rao: Telecom Operators & Internet services need to share revenues
– RCOM’s Gurdeep Singh on Apple tie-up; Shorter EMI-like Zero Plans & more devices
– RCOM inks intra-circle pacts with other telcos to offer pan-India 3G roaming

Updates: Headline modified