Idea Cellular’s Voice Volume Gain as RPM Declines & 3G Grows 100% YoY

Idea Voice RPM declines with Increasing VolumePlain Vanilla Wireless Operator with the Just in Time to Market Strategy, Idea Cellular registered a revenue growth of 21.6% yoy, a combination of 18.1% yoy voice volume growth but with a decline in Voice RPM from 36.2 Paise/ Min to 35.6 Paise / Minute on the back of aggressive voice pricing clearly a well thought-through volume market-share gain strategy and the company is delivering on the strategic intent.

Competitors Vodafone and Airtel are both underperforming Idea materially on voice volume as each company plays a different volume / pricing equation and has a different target growth rate; Airtel and Vodafone may not necessarily be as concerned about underperformance but empirical data clearly shows that Idea’s voice volume market share gains over the past few years have not necessarily been driven by RPM dilution alone, in fact pricing has never been the major factor.

Idea 3G Growth Stronger
Idea ended the quarter with 34.2 mn data subs (23% of overall subs), of which 13 mn were 3G subscribers . Idea added an impressive 7 mn 3G subs yoy, more than doubling its 3G subscriber base from last year.

3G volumes grew a staggering 164% yoy on the back of both subscriber growth and increase in usage; 2G volume growth wasn’t far behind at 86% yoy. The fact that less than 50% of Idea’s smartphone (18.7% of Idea’s subs base) users use 3G indicates that the 3G volume growth trajectory is likely to sustain.

Mobile Data ARPU stood at Rs 126/data sub/month increasing 6% qoq and 39% yoy. This was largely driven by high overall data usage, which increased 5% qoq and 52% yoy to 470 MB/data sub/month.

Idea Wireless Network Expansion and Rollout Continues
During the quarter, 2,300 2G and 2,700 3G sites were added taking their count to 110,000 and 27,700 respectively. Idea’s CAPEX will be very high in the coming months as it strives to renew critical 900 MHz Spectrum in 9 circles which account for about 72% of its revenues.

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