India’s Bharti Airtel has reported a steep 78% slump in net profit for the March quarter to 830 million rupees ($12.5 million), partly as a result of the industry’s ongoing price war.
Revenue for the quarter fell 5.4% year-on-year to 196.3 billion rupees, with revenue from India falling 7.5% to 147.96 billion rupees on an underlying basis.
India mobile revenues fell 13.5% due to the stiff competition, but Airtel increased its customer base by 4.9% from the previous quarter to 273.6 million.
Revenue from Airtel’s African operations by contrast grew 10.7% year-on-year, with data traffic up 88%, voice minutes increasing by 37% and customer net additions increasing 11.5% to 84.13 million.
During the quarter, Airtel expanded its operations to Rwanda with the purchase of Tigo Rwanda.
For the full year, Airtel’s total revenue fell 9.8% to 836.8 billion rupees and its net income fell 71.1% to 10.99 billion rupees.
“The [Indian] telecom industry continues to witness below cost, artificially suppressed pricing. Industry revenues were further adversely impacted this quarter due to the reduction in international termination rates,” Airtel CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal said.
“Airtel continued to consolidate its leadership position this quarter. Our strategic investments in data capacities, innovative digital content through Airtel TV, customer friendly bundles and upgrade programs led to the highest ever mobile data customer additions of 15 million during the quarter. Usage parameters remained robust–on a YOY basis, we saw data and voice traffic grow 584% and 55% respectively.”