As expected, Vodafone Essar has added a much higher 8.56 million connections in the quarter ended December 2009. In the previous quarter, it added 6.3 million.  The #3 telco had a total of 91.4 million connections as of December 2009. In October, there were reports of the telco experiencing a rise in connections in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Increased additions have directly led to lower ARPUs: the operator suffered a fall in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) to Rs 209 from Rs 222 reported for the previous quarter. But other operators have fared no better: Bharti Airtel’s ARPU fell to Rs 230 and Idea’s to Rs 200, while RCOM’s was Rs 149.

Competition pressures are increasing for Vodafone with many operators offering per second billing pan-India and the growing number of Multi-SIMs. It has recorded higher annualised churn in prepaid connections at Vodafone at 38.9%, postpaid churn was at 26%.

Total voice minutes, which is the total volume of incoming, outgoing and visitor calls on the Vodafone Essar network have risen to 83,172 million in the quarter. The telco has 93,000 base stations in India covering 72% of the population.

Financials

Year on year growth in both voice and data revenues have lifted in the quarter and total revenues were up 9.1% to GBP 767 million for the quarter ended December 2009. Comparatively, Idea’s revenues were up 5.9 percent QoQ for the quarter ended December 2009, but both Bharti Airtel and RCOM experienced sequential declines of 4.79 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.

Details: Financials | Release | Presentation

Voice revenue grew 7.14% sequentially and 6.24 percent year on year to GBP 630 million in the quarter. In the September quarter, both voice and data revenues had fallen on a year on year comparison. Messaging revenue continues to soar, this time witnessing a 21.74 percent growth both YoY and QoQ.

India Tax Case: UK PM Brown Writes To Manmohan Singh

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on behalf of Vodafone ‘warning that such tax treatment will affect India’s investment climate’, the Indian Express reported.  In October 2009, the Indian Tax authorities had demanded tax worth GBP 1.21 billion on the telecom companies acquisition of Hutchison Essar in 2007 for GBP 6.78 billion. In November, the group had asked for two months more to reply to the tax claim.

Key Corporate Developments In The Quarter

In December, Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao had said that it was looking to sell its indirect minority stake of 4.39 percent in Bharti Airtel. The company also has plans to list Vodafone Essar in India.

This quarter, Vodafone Essar partnered with Radio Mirchi for Vodafone Mirchi Caller Tunes. This allowed users to purchase any song as their caller back ring tone that they hear on the Radio Mirchi station in 32 cities.

The company gave into the tariff war and announced a nation wide pay per second tariff. The plan had variations according to different circles.

The company tied up with Telugu film production house Jayam Movies to host a talent hunt.

Related:
Vodafone India Revenues Down 7% QoQ, ARPU At Rs.222
CRBT Meets FM: Vodafone Essar & Radio Mirchi Tie Up
RCOM’s Revenues Fall 3.9% QoQ, MoU Up 23.4%
Bharti Airtel ARPU Down To Rs.230, SMS Rev Up, Net Profits Down, IPO For Tower Unit
Idea Cellular ARPU Crashes, PAT Down 22%