Airtel reported yesterday that the contribution of non-voice revenue (data, VAS, SMS) for the quarter, for its India mobile operations, was as high as 15%, probably the highest it has been over the last four years. It’s not quite clear what has pushed revenue contribution up, since Airtel doesn’t really have as much of a mobile data card services base like competitors Reliance Communications and Tata Indicom, and 3G services have only just been rolled out, and given the context that the company had switched off its Bulk SMS business (or claimed to have done it), 15% is rather high.

Last month the company reported 2 million 3G customers in India; while the company has claimed to have launched 3G services launched in over 21 cities, there appears to have been an impact on network availability since the rollout – yesterday, there were reports of Airtel’s network being down during the second half of the day, across its home circle of Delhi, with customers not able to send or receive calls; I faced a similar issue for an entire day a week or so ago. A map has even been set up for plotting network outages, based on tweets. If this continues, it doesn’t augur well for “minutes of use” in the current quarter (the one we’re in); Minutes of Use were flat quarter on quarter for March 2011, and both Average Revenue Per Minute (ARPM) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

Consolidated Revenues

Airtel reported consolidated revenues (including operations in Africa and India and South Asia regions) of Rs 59,467 crore for the full year ended March 31st 2011, up 42.11% from Rs 41847 crore the previous fiscal. EBITDA was up to Rs 19966 crore, up from Rs. 16763, but it’s important to remember that this growth is on the back of the addition of revenues from Africa to Airtel, which means that the two years are not really comparable. In the same way, Net Income for the company was pulled down by Africa, to Rs 6047 crore, from Rs 8977 crore, down 32.64% for the year.

Airtel’s consolidated EBITDA margin has also declined to 34.3%, from 40.3% the previous fiscal, and the company says that this is equally attributable to pricing pressure in India and South Asia, and the lower margins in African operations acquired during the year.

Its India and South Asia revenue grew 9% year on year to Rs. 36,268.9 crore, accounting for a majority of the companys revenues, but the two years aren’t comparable due to the acquisition of 70% in Warid Telecom in January 2009, which would be included in India and South Asia, alongwith Airtel Sri Lanka.

Airtel had 211.92 million mobile customers at the end of the quarter, around 162 million of them subscribing to mobile services in India, 44.2 million in Africa. In India, Airtel also has almost 3.3 million, and 5.66 million Digital TV customers.

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Quarterly Performance: India & South Asia

– Airtel’s mobile revenue for India and South Asia grew marginally at 3% quarter on quarter to Rs. 9495 crore, while mobile EBITDA declined 0.22% to Rs. 3162 crore

– Airtel reported 162 million mobile customers in India, the largest wireless telco, and interestingly enough, with over 90% of its connection base active. The company claims to have a customer market share of 20%, and a revenue market share of over 30%.

– Telemedia revenue (Rs. 917 crore) was flat, and has been flat for a while, as was Telemedia ARPU at Rs. 934

– Airtel Telemedia has a subscriber base (3.29 million), and the company states that 41.3% of its Telemedia base has subscribed to broadband services. That would be approximately 1.42 million. This is rather low, and given that the company has instituted a fair usage policy, and is now pushing out value added services, abandoning the principle of network neutrality, it almost appears to us as if Airtel is content with its broadband base, and is looking to improve monetization, at the cost of growing its base.

– Digital TV Services appear to be gathering the momentum that Telemedia has failed to. Already, at 5.6 million, Airtel Digital TV has more customers than Telemedia. Perhaps this has something to do with last mile access: Digital TV is wireless (DTH), while Telemedia (broadband and wireline) is wireline.

– Airtel hasn’t disclosed the number of IPTV subscribers it has.

– Mobile Number Portability: Airtel hasn’t disclosed the number of subscribers that have ported out or in, but interestingly, it does say in the management notes that ‘There are certain operational and technical issues w.r.t. implementation of MNP such as need for introduction of another rejection reason “Port out Cancelled by Customer” basis SMS based cancellation, definition of time for UPC generation, 3 hrs porting window, requirement of network maintenance window, which Industry through its associations are taking up with TRAI in order to make necessary amendments in the existing MNP Regulation’

Africa

Airtel reported revenues of $924 million from Africa for the quarter ending March 31st 2011, up marginally by 1.43%. It’s EBITDA increased to $243 million (around 26% of total revenues), and net loss declined to $19 million. The company reported an increase in access charges, and a decline in operating expenses; remember that in Q3, Airtel had rebranded, and the campaign, especially in Africa would have led to higher advertising and marketing expenses.

– Operationally, the number of customers for Airtel in Africa increased to 44.2 million, up 4.94% quarter on quarter

– What’s worrying about the Africa numbers is a decline in average minutes of use.

– 3G: Airtel received 3G licenses for Congo B on the 25th of February 2011. In addition, a consultation process has begun in Congo DRC. Discussion have also begun in Madagascar
– MNP: MNP was launched in Kenya on 1st April 2011. Ghana is expected to have MNP by 1st July 2011. In Nigeria, “discussions are ongoing”.
– Subscriber verification: Airtel expects subscriber verification to be the norm in its Africa markets by end of the year; KYC implementation is ongoing in Tanzania, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, DRC, Congo B, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda & Sierra Leone.

Note: we’ll have more from Airtel’s conference call later.