Idea Cellular's overall subscriber base shrinks in Q1; ARPU takes a hit

Vodafone India offering new unlimited calls and 1GB data/day

The Aditya Birla group company, that is working out a merger with Idea Cellular to tide over the hard times, reported a loss of Rs 617 crore in the April-June'17-18 period against a profit of Rs 497 crore in the same quarter last fiscal.

Reliance Jio has announced that it will launch a 4G feature phone against one-time refundable deposit of Rs1,500 a unit.

Net income for the Sunil Bharti Mittal company stood at Rs1,462 crore in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Answering a question about Jio feature phone, the executive said that their company had no such plans to launch any device. We will work with all the device companies to encourage this.

Vittal said that Jio's feature phone will open up a new segment for 4G services. Like in Jio 4G plan everything is free - No limit of calling, No roaming charges & No daily data limit. He clarified that the company would continue bundling with smartphone manufacturers to bring new and cheap phones to the market.

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Vittal said that the price of the feature phone is on the higher side compared to what is being sold in the market.

However, the number of feature phones shipped in India is steadily dropping as smartphones maintain a steady march into consumers' hands. "As it happens, there is going to be increased SIM consolidation, which always benefits a leader like us because the customer then consolidates their spend around one SIM", Vittal noted.

"We've already communicated our position to the regulator that the current IUC at 14 paise/minute is well below cost and we hope it will take a decision that enables us to cover the cost of producing a minute", Vittal said. This time it's Vodafone India which has come up with a plan. This is simply because we have responded in the marketplace with aggressive pricing in order to compete and grow our market share.

Supported by reasonably good increases in both voice and data volumes, which almost doubled to 252.8 billion MB, Idea Cellular's revenues in Q1FY18 inched up by 0.5 per cent to Rs 8,166.5 crore.

The Bharti Airtel MD, in fact, expects sector consolidation to pick up speed, with India likely to soon emerge "a max three-player market" with an additional government player, and "value players melting down".

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