India's third largest telecom operator Idea Cellular has reported a loss of Rs 815.9 crore in the first quarter ended June 30, impacted by sustained pressure from disruptive tariffs of a new operator.
"The upheaval in the Indian wireless industry continued in Q1FY18, despite the new entrant slowly migrating from 'Free Services' to 'Paid Services' but with heavily discounted unlimited voice and data pricing plans," the company said.
Amidst this market aggression, existing operators including Idea also introduced similar competitive unlimited price plans, which is likely to result in a decline in industry revenues, although the impact of the same is expected to be more pronounced on non-4G operators.
"These aggressive tariff offerings by Idea, led by unlimited voice and data bundled plans, resulted in the steep decline of voice and mobile data realization rates," Idea further said.
Total revenue of Idea also declined by about 14 percent to Rs 8,181.7 crore in the reported quarter from Rs 9,552.4 crore it posted in the corresponding period of 2016-17.
The telco said that Mobile data volume witnessed a meteoric growth of 99.1 percent on a sequential quarterly basis as Idea's large Pan India network, primarily its Wireless Broadband Network, carried 252.8 billion Mega Bytes in Q1FY18, nearly double the traffic consumption in Q4FY17. However, the mobile data rate (ARMB) saw an unprecedented decline of 52.9 percent, reaching to as low as 5.4 paise/MB (vs. 11.5 paise in Q4FY17).
During last two years (Q1FY16 to Q1FY18), Idea has aggressively expanded its wireless broadband infrastructure by 3.5 times adding 83,765 sites (3G+4G), expanding the network to 117,386 broadband sites (3G+4G). Idea's wireless broadband network (3G+4G) now covers 524 million Indians across all 22 service areas in ~106,000 towns and villages. With the addition of 46,576 4G sites in the same period, the company rapidly expanded its 4G-LTE presence to 47,000 towns & villages and now covers 30.2 percent population (353 million Indians) in 20 service areas.