Revenue loss from telcos temporary, says telecom secy

New Delhi, Mar 30: Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan has said the fall in revenue and levy collections from the telecom sector in 2017 was a temporary phenomenon, caused largely by ‘free’ voice tariff offers and asserted that a revival was around the corner.
“I believe that this is an interim phenomenon, because suddenly voice has been made practically free at a time when voice was driving the market, which is why ARPUs (average revenue per user) have fallen so much,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said.
Sundararajan was referring to the introduction of free voice offers by almost all telcos, in an attempt to match new entrant Reliance Jio’s free voice and dirt cheap data offerings. The battle for subscribers has hurt revenue and profitability — leading to lower revenue generation for the government — and, combined with high debt levels, forced some like Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to merge and others such as Tata Teleservices, Reliance Communications and Norway’s Telenor to exit.
Another smaller carrier Aircel has filed for bankruptcy. According to recent data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), licence fee collections from the telecom industry shrank almost 5% sequentially in the October to December quarter to Rs 3,104 crore, while adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of the sector fell 7.5% on quarter to Rs 38,536 crore. Monthly average revenue per user from GSM services (including 4G LTE) dipped 5.4% on-quarter to Rs 79.