Reliance communications (RCOM) is in talks for ‘tenancy’, company executives confirmed on its earnings conference call yesterday. Responding to a specific question on whether they see the entry of Reliance Industries in the wireless broadband space as having a positive or negative impact on them, company executives said they support the entry of any responsible player – without naming any in particular – which grows the business pie, especially on data. “We can only benefit in accelerating the data revolution if some responsible players come in. Given the fact that spectrum is limited – in 3G you have 5 MHz, and in LTE you have a smaller footprint of 5 (Mhz), I think everybody is going to be responsible in the data play. On the tenancy side, if there are tenancies coming in, that will be a net benefit for us. There have been reports that RCOM is in talks with RIL for tenancy. Remember that the company has one of the largest optical fibre networks in the country, and has both GSM and CDMA spectrum.
2.1M Active 3G Subs; Claims 20% Tablet Marketshare
The company also disclosed that it has 2.1 million active 3G subscribers, which it says is a substantive increase over last quarter, when it reported 2 million (active and inactive) total 3G subscribers. It did not comment on how many total 3G subscribers it currently has, or on GPRS and Data Card customers. Data and VAS are a key focus are for RCOM, with non-voice revenues contributing to 20% of its topline. It expects non-voice revenues to double in the next two years.
Responding to a question, the company said that they have seen evidence of accelerating mobile data adoption using smart phones and tablets. The ecosystem for handsets is much larger, and tablets are an emerging segment, but RCOM claims to have a marketshare higher than 20%, of the tablets sold in India, including the iPad and the Galaxy Tab. Remember that RCOM launched an Android tablet priced at around Rs 13000.
As a part of its Wirefree India plan, the company said it expanded its high speed data network to cover 1000 towns, up from 65 towns a year ago, has 3G in 33 towns in 13 circles, including top metros, and has data coverage in 20,000 towns.
During the quarter, it launched RApps, a Reliance branded application store, with 50,000 apps and games. So what happened to the tie-up with GetJar?
It has also tied up with Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson and other OEMs for mobile Internet bundling offers to drive the 3G ecosystem.
VoD Across Platforms
RCOM will launch a Video on Demand application shortly, which will render across devices, Handsets, tablets, PCs etc. The company did not share details on the call.
Focus on Paid Minutes
RCOMs wireless revenue grew by 2.1% in Q2, driven by a 1.6% minutes of use growth. Its rate per minute was 44.7p per minute, a growth of 0.5%, and it reported an EBITDA margin of 31.8%. A recent tariff increase helped the company increase rate per minute. The company pointed towards tariff hikes in the market during the quarter, and said that this is an indication of subdued competitive intensity; subscriber additions are also on the decline.
RCOM said that it will focus on paid minutes and non-voice services, and that its objective is to drive higher consumption led growth without diluting revenue per minute, and gain revenue marketshare. It is targeting 20% revenue marketshare, and wants more than 20% profit share of the industry. It said that the full impact of the tariff increase has not yet panned out.