Mobile voice, data traffic surge in Jul-Sept ’19 qtr: Kotak

New Delhi: Mobile data and voice traffic surge saw the telcos’ operational parameters steady in the July-September quarter despite it being a seasonally weak period for voice traffic, said a report from Kotak Equities.

Stable pricing and increasing share of revenues from bundled price plans meant that the September 2019 quarter did not see the usual seasonal sequential dip in sector revenues despite a decline in voice traffic. Data traffic surge continued with industry wireless data traffic up 11% QoQ and 59% YoY, Kotak said.

Jio’s share of industry data traffic fell below 60% for the first time since commercial launch. Postpaid ARPU declined further while prepaid ARPU inched up a tad.

Industry voice traffic has gone up 2.1 times to nearly 10 tn minutes annualized as the already-among-the-highest-in-the-world MOU/sub has nearly doubled to around 700 minutes/month. An unlimited voice construct has truly unleashed the talkative Indian, Kotak noted.

Aggregate data traffic in September 2019 quarter stood at 20.3 bn GB, 43 times the 0.48 bn GB figure in June 2016 quarter. Total data subs base has doubled in this timeframe to 665 mn while usage per data sub, at 10.6 GB/month, now stands 21X the June 2016 levels.

LTE subs (557 mn including Jiophone subs) now form 84% of total subs and 94% of total data volume was carried on LTE networks in September 2019 quarter, it pointed. 3G accounted for 5.7% of total industry data volumes. Not surprising, in this backdrop, that Bharti and VIL have aggressively started exploring possibilities of refarming their 3G spectrum to LTE. Quicker adoption of VoLTE will help accelerate this move.

Aggregate annualized consumer-level spends for the September 2019 quarter, at Rs 1.45 tn, stood 21% below Jun 2016 levels of Rs1.84 tn. Adjusted for an increase in indirect tax rates (18% GST versus 15% service tax earlier), the decline is a sharper 23%. Consumer-level spends stood at 0.73% of GDP for the Sep 2019 quarter versus 1.25% in Jun 2016.

Industry size, hypothetically, would be 71% higher than where it is if the brutal competition hadn’t eroded its share of the consumer wallet. Consumer-level spending, while flat QoQ, was up 8% YoY. This was the highest YoY growth print since the Sep 2015 quarter. The flat sequential print isn’t a bad one, either. Industry revenues have historically dipped in the September quarters on account of seasonal weakness in voice usage.

Bundled pricing construct delinks revenues from usage; while this has so far meant that industry revenues did not see any upside from increasing data and voice usage, it meant stable sequential revenues in 2QFY20, the first time that seasonality has not resulted in a sequential revenue decline, said the report.

Aggregate data traffic grew 11% QoQ and 59% YoY to 20.3 bn GB as data usage per sub grew 6% QoQ and 25% YoY to 10.6 GB/month.

Data usage per sub for the LTE subs base stood at a higher 12 GB/month. 93.7% of total data traffic was carried on LTE networks, 5.7% on 3G and just 0.6% on 2G. 3G subs base has now fallen to less than 50 mn with VIL and BSNL accounting for a bulk of these. Jio’s share of total data traffic stood at 59.2% (down 160 bps QoQ, down 250 bps YoY), falling below 60% for the first time. Jio’s share of incremental traffic was also an all-time-low 43%.


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