More than 15.6 million Idea connections accessed Facebook from their mobile phone in the last quarter, over 8 million accessed YouTube and 4.3 million accessed WhatsApp, the company’s MD Himanshu Kampania said on its earnings conference call for the quarter ended September 30th 2013.
Kapania said that India is at the tip of the iceberg as far as data growth is concerned: in the past year 14.7 million Idea customers have started using mobile data, traffic for which has has also increased by 99.6% from Q2FY13, with 17.5 billion MB data transfer during the quarter.
Mobile data revenue as a percentage of service revenue has increased by 3.3% to 8.7%. Kapania said that there is a huge scope to increase mobile data revenue contribution when benchmarked with similar sized economies in South East Asia where mobile data revenue as a percentage of service revenue is in the range of 18-25%.
In addition to his previous warning about Internet based messaging services like Whatsapp impacting non-data VAS for Idea, Kapania said that while only around 36% of Idea’s connection base uses SMS, many high-usage SMS customers have shifted to Internet based messaging services. While the impact on revenues has not been significant, given that SMS only accounts for around 2.5-3.5% of Idea’s overall revenues, he did say that the company wanted to appraise investors of a potential threat in the future.
“Services such as YouTube and Whatsapp are able to reach so many users only because of the capital-intensive network they have built,” adding that there needs to be a way to ensure that all the players in the ecosystem generate sufficient surplus to pursue their own investments. He didn’t specify what measures are being taken to address this potential threat (we didn’t get a question in, on the concall), readers should note that its peer Bharti Airtel has spoken many times that companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook should pay for their services being provisioned to customers. This has implications for net-neutrality.
In the earnings report Idea had revealed that it has 6.2 million 3G data subscribers currently; up from 5.5 million last quarter. 3G Data ARPU per data customer increased to Rs 116 from Rs 109 last quarter and 3G Data Usage has increased to 429 mb per connection, up from 398 mb last quarter. Idea currently has 16.75% of the total connections in India.
Idea is expecting 3G usage to escalate in the coming months due to the increasing sales of 3G smartphones. According to Kapania 1.5 million smartphones are being sold in India now with 5-inch being the most popular screen size among Idea users.