Indian mobile provider Vodafone Idea (Vi) has published its financial results for the three months to end-June 2023, reporting that net loss widened to INR78.37 billion (USD943 million) from INR64.14 billion quarter-on-quarter and INR72.96 billion in the same period of 2022. Gross revenue grew by 2.4% year-on-year to INR106.56 billion, whilst operating expenses grew by 6.9% over the same period to INR64.99 billion and EBITDA narrowed to INR41.57 billion from INR43.28 billion a year earlier. Depreciation and amortisation, and net interest and financing costs for the period stood at INR56.17 billion and INR63.77 billion, respectively, compared to INR58.04 billion and INR58.17 billion a year earlier.
Vi counted a total of 221.4 million mobile subscriptions as of 30 June 2023, down from 225.9 million in March 2023 and 240.4 million in June 2022. The company continued to record 4G subscription growth, however, with 122.9 million 4G subscriptions compared to 122.6 million in the preceding quarter and 119.0 million a year earlier. Similarly, ARPU improved to INR139 from INR135 q-o-q and from INR128 y-o-y.
The cellco’s financial struggles continue to hinder its operations, meanwhile, with Vi noting that it remains in discussions with ‘various network vendors’ to finalise its 5G rollout strategy: under the terms of its licence the cellco was required to begin offering 5G services by mid-August 2023. Talks with vendor partners have been held up by the company’s struggles to secure sufficient funding and managed it substantial debt pile – its net debt stood at INR2.115 trillion at the end of June 2023. In a related development, the cellco has reportedly informed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that it will make use of a 30-day grace period to pay the second instalment of dues for its 5G spectrum, totalling INR16.8 billion and due by 17 August. If the company fails to clear the dues within the 30-day period, it could face severe sanctions from the DoT, including the cancellation of the spectrum licence. In a separate filing, however, the group explained that one of Vi’s promoter groups – the UK’s Vodafone Group and Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group – have confirmed that they will provide direct or indirect financial support of up to INR20 billion to meet ‘impending payment obligations’.
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