Bharti Airtel Limited's consolidated net loss for the December quarter stood at Rs 1,035 crore after exceptional items, which is in contrast with Rs 86 crore profit reported in December 2018. The Sunil Mittal-led telecom giant had reported highest-ever quarterly loss of Rs 23,045 crore during the previous quarter due to provisioning for AGR dues after Supreme Court's verdict.
Airtel's consolidated revenues grew 10.5 per cent YoY for Q3 at Rs 21,947 crore, while India revenues rose 9.7 per cent to Rs 15,797 crore. The consolidated mobile data traffic registered a 73 per cent YoY growth, the company said in a statement.
Airtel said its mobile revenues witnessed 9.6 per cent Y-o-Y growth led by a strong focus on quality customers, up-trading and in some part benefitted by the recent tariff actions, although the full impact of the tariff actions is yet to be seen. Also, Airtel's ARPU (average revenue per user) improved from Rs 128 to Rs 135 QoQ, the company added.
Airtel said during Q3, its mobile 4G data customers increased 60.6 per cent to 123.8 million from 77.1 million in the corresponding quarter last year.
"We added 21 million 4G customers to our mobile network and delivered superior value to our customers through the Airtel Thanks programme. Data traffic saw strong growth of 72 per cent Y-o-Y. We are on track to shut down our 3G networks across India and re-farm the 900 and 2100 band spectrum to further boost our 4G footprint to serve the surging demand for high-speed data," Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel India & South Asia, said.
He added that while tariff revision undertaken in December 2019 was a welcome step towards repairing the financial health of the industry, the company believed tariffs must go up further for enabling the industry to invest in emerging technologies.
Meanwhile, Airtel said in wake of the Supreme Court judgement on AGR on October 24, 2019 -- due to no relief from the government -- the company provisioned an amount of Rs 34,260 crore as on September 30, 2019, of which Rs 28,450 crore was recorded in the previous quarter as an exceptional item.
In its judgement, the SC had directed telecom companies, including Airtel, to pay past statutory dues worth Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the DoT in three months, a deadline that ended on January 23. "These judgements/orders have significant financial implications on the Group. A Review Petition filed by the Group and other telecom operators against the above Court Judgement was rejected in January 2020. Thereafter, the telecom operators have applied for modification of the Supplementary Order before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, which is pending disposal," the company said.
The AGR dispute dates back to 2003 when the association of telecom operators filed the first plea with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) challenging the definition of AGR. As per standard accounting practice, companies have to make provisions for such claims. As per estimates, Airtel has to pay Rs 21,682 crore while Vodafone Idea's dues stand at Rs 28,308 crore.
Edited by Manoj Sharma