Vodafone Idea hikes Capex, adds 8.3 million 4G customers

Vodafone Idea said its 4G subscriber base reached 104.2 million as the telecom operator added 8.3 million customers during the December quarter.
Vodafone Idea mobile networkVodafone Idea’s revenue grew 2.3 percent quarter-on-quarter supported by growth in 4G additions. Average daily revenue (ADR) of Vodafone Idea returned to growth after 14 quarters of decline.

Capex spend of Vodafone Idea in Q3FY20 was Rs 33.3 billion compared to Rs 21.4 billion in Q2FY20. Vishant Vora, chief technology officer of Vodafone Idea, is responsible for the 4G and 5G network strategy and investment plans.

Vodafone Idea has the fastest 4G network in the three metros — Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, along with West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in Q3 FY2020, according to Ookla.

Vodafone Idea has deployed ~58,200 TDD sites to enhance data capacity. Vodafone Idea said its Massive MIMO rollout remains the largest in India. LTE 900 rollout expanded to 9 circles, with launch in Uttar Pradesh (W) during Q3. Vodafone Idea has consolidated UP (E), Gujarat and Delhi circles in January, 2020 taking count of integrated circles to 17.

“We remain focused on network integration as well as 4G coverage and capacity expansion in our key markets. We lead the league tables on 4G data download speeds across several states, metros and large cities,” Ravinder Takkar, MD and CEO of Vodafone Idea, said in a statement.

Revenue increased 2.3 percent quarter-on-quarter to Rs 110.9 billion, primarily supported by 4G additions driving ARPU improvement.

EBITDA increased 0.7 percent to Rs. 34.2 billion driven by higher revenue and incremental synergy realisation. EBITDA margins stood at 11.6 percent vs 10.2 percent in Q2FY20. The operating expenses were Rs 17.9 billion lower compared to Q1FY19, after adjusting for inflation driven cost increases and incremental network rollout.

Vodafone Idea network update

Vodafone Idea completed network integration in 86 percent of total districts. Vodafone Idea completed the integration of Uttar Pradesh (E), Gujarat and Delhi circles in January, 2020, taking the integrated circles count to 17.

The improved coverage and capacity following integration, coupled with the deployment of TDD sites, Massive MIMO and LTE 900 on select sites has increased data capacity, which has almost doubled compared to September, 2018. This has driven a significant improvement in data speeds and customer experience across all circles.

Vodafone Idea, as part of network integration, had removed surplus equipment from ~58,000 sites out of the total ~73,000 co-located sites by the end of December, 2019, reducing cost. It exited ~17,000 low utilization sites.

The subscriber base declined to 304 million in Q3 from 311 million in Q2FY20. Subscriber churn reduced in Q3FY20, reaching 3.3 percent compared to 3.5 percent in Q2FY20 and 3.7 percent in Q1FY20. Vodafone Idea ARPU for Q3 improved to Rs 109 vs Rs 107 in Q2FY20 supported by improved customer mix.

Vodafone Idea added ~14,600 4G FDD sites, the highest addition in a single quarter since merger, to improve 4G population coverage which now stands at 974 million. Vodafone Idea deployed ~58,200 TDD sites in addition to deployment of ~11,400 Massive MIMO till date.

Vodafone Idea is implementing LTE 900 in select locations, including through dynamic spectrum re-farming, to improve customer experience. The broadband site count stood at 417,361 in Q3 compared to 405,346 in Q2FY20.