Bharti Airtel had reported India mobile data revenues of Rs 1,805 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2014, up 73.8% YoY. This accounted for 14.5% of Airtel’s total mobile revenues for the quarter, as compared to 12.4% in the previous quarter and 9.4% in the same quarter last year.
Here are some notes from Airtel’s investor conference call:
Data pricing: Bharti Airtel Joint MD & CEO-India Gopal Vittal mentions that data, unlike voice, isn’t uniform across a city or region. In cities like Delhi & Bangalore certain parts of the city are congested because of constraint in spectrum, while some other parts are effectively empty sites, which affects the pricing.
More aggressive on 4G pricing: Airtel is able to be more aggressive on its 4G pricing, in comparison to its 3G pricing which is about 0.24 paise per MB, because the technology uses better equipment that consume less energy and has greater capacity.
3G launch on 900 MHz: Vittal mentioned that as of now Mumbai is the only city Airtel is equipped to launch 3G services on 900 MHz band, though the timing depends on when the spectrum allocation is completed. Airtel had also acquired spectrum on the 900 MHz band in Delhi & Kolkata. He mentioned that the final decision would be made over a period of time and would depend on how much the traffic grows in these particular circles. Also, Airtel would require considerable time to retune their entire network & equipment in a circle like Delhi, due to lower spectrum & frequency swapping. The telco previously had 8 MHz capacity on the 900 MHz band but was able to pick up only 6 MHz during the latest auction.
Earlier this month, Airtel had inked a deal with Nokia Corporation subsidiary Nokia Networks to enhance its 3G network in Mumbai, West Bengal and Bihar telecom circles. As part of the deal, a dual band, dual carrier 3G network will be set up at Mumbai, refarming 900 MHz to complement the city’s existing 3G network on 2100 MHz. This is expected to enable higher throughput and thus improved 3G services for Airtel’s customers.
4G on FD-LTE launch plans: Vittal declined to divulge any specific plans on Airtel’s 4G launch on TD-LTE. However, he mentioned that Airtel had picked up spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in several telecom circles, including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam among others, which provides its the capability to launch 4G on FD-LTE. Apparently, Airtel is closely monitoring the space and working on plans based on how devices in the ecosystem develop.
Airtel had earlier mentioned that it was looking to use the 1800MHz spectrum it acquired in the February 2014 2G auctions to roll out high speed 4G networks using FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band for a pan-India 4G rollout.
Our Airtel Q2-FY15 earnings coverage: