Shares of India’s largest telecom operator advanced more than 2% in the early trade on Wednesday after the company has added 6 lakh new users in July 2017, according to the data published by industry body COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). The heavyweight stock of Bharti Airtel rose as much as 2.85% to the day’s high of Rs 433.7 and was the top gainer on the benchmark Sensex today.
Airtel shares contributed about 14 points in the 150 points upsurge in the 30-share barometer today, the stock has zoomed 16.64% to Rs 433.7 in the last three months. Earlier yesterday, four private telecom operators, including Idea Cellular and Vodafone, lost 43.7 lakh customers while Bharti Airtel added 6 lakh new users in July 2017, the data published by industry body COAI showed today.
In a recent development, Bharti Airtel to counter Reliance Jio Phone, is reportedly planning to launch its own 4G mobile. According to various news reports, Airtel will launch the Android-based 4G phone just before Diwali, sometime in early October.
While the total mobile customer base of five COAI members that include Aircel and Telenor declined by 37.74 lakh to 82.6 crore in July from 83 crore at the end of June. “…the extreme financial stress being experienced by the industry currently is likely to show its impact on these numbers. The industry is undergoing a phase of hyper-competition and at the moment it is reeling under a debt of over Rs 4.5 lakh crore,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said in a statement.
He said the industry further needs an additional investment of over Rs 2.5 lakh crore for infrastructure roll-out and expansion are required especially in the far flung areas of the country. The subscriber base of Bharti Airtel reached 28.12 crore in July. Idea lost the most 23 lakh customers in the month, followed by Vodafone that lost 13.89 lakh customers.
Recently the inter-ministerial group (IMG) has relieved telecom operators by favouring more time to telecom companies on deferred spectrum payments. The IMG set up to look into financial woes of telcos may suggest increasing the time for deferred spectrum payment to 16 years as this is among the proposals on which the panel has reached a “consensus”, according to multiple officials.
The inter-ministerial group, in June, had held extensive dialogue with all telecom players and large banks on the industry’s financial difficulties. With debt burden exceeding over Rs 4.6 lakh crore, the telecom companies are seeking an immediate policy intervention to overcome the crisis.
United against newcomer Reliance Jio, the established telecom companies have been flagging pressure on profitability and revenue and are pushing for a cut in licence fee, spectrum usage charges, besides relaxation in deferred payment norms for the spectrum acquired. Reliance Jio, backed by India’s richest person Mukesh Ambani, has ascribed the financial stress in the telecom sector to existing operators like Bharti and Idea running businesses on debt and investing heavily in unrelated sectors, a charge that has outright been dismissed by the large operators.