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Vodafone India’s Q1 revenue down 22%

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NEW DELHI: India’s second largest telecom firm Vodafone reported a 22.3 per cent decline in June quarter revenue to 959 million euro on intense competition and cuts in termination rates.

The London-headquartered company had posted revenues of 1.387 billion euro under the IAS18 accounting standards for the corresponding period last year.

Having bagged the Department of Telecom nod for its merger with Idea Cellular, the company exuded confidence of completing the transaction by next month.

The British telecom company said the service revenues, excluding the impact of the mobile termination rate cuts, declined by 9.6 per cent for the reporting quarter.

When compared to the preceding March quarter, the service revenues declined 0.2 per cent, the company said, stating that this was due to prepaid prices being stable during the three months.

The company said it was able to retain the high value customers at lower price levels and the crucial average revenue per user declined by 20 per cent for the postpaid connections and 28 per cent for the prepaid connections.

A move away to ‘single SIM’ ownership due to unlimited plans saw the number of customers decline by three million during the quarter to 219.7 million and mitigated the pricing pressures, it said.

Over 29 per cent of its prepaid users have availed the unlimited offers, it said, adding 77 million of its customers are using data, of which 20.9 million are on 4G.

It said the steep decline in prices has quadrupled Indian data traffic and customers are now using an average of 4.6 GB of data every month, against 2.8 GB in Europe.

On its merger with Idea Cellular, the company said the Aditya Birla Group company has paid 0.5 billion euro in spectrum liberalisation fees and also provided a bank guarantee to cover certain disputed demands which are the subject of ongoing court cases.

“In India, where competition remains intense, we have now received conditional approval from the Department of Telecoms for the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, which we aim to close before the end of August, allowing us to unlock substantial synergies,” its group chief executive Vittorio Colao said.

It can be noted that in face of rising competitive pressures after the launch and aggressive play of the deep-pocketed Reliance Jio, all the entrenched companies have faced varied pressure on finances. It has led to withdrawal of a few operators and also bankruptcies.

Idea Cellular and Vodafone announced to merge operations in March last year and were targeting to seal the merger by June.

The company said it is also making good progress on merger of Indus Towers into Bharti Infratel, and has received approvals from the Competition Commission of India and Sebi this month.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Apple to bring iPhone 13 lineup to India from September 24 with prices starting at Rs 69,900

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NEW DELHI: Apple enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the latest line-up of iPhones — iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — with prices starting at Rs 69,900 onwards later this month.

“Customers in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, the US, and more than 30 other countries and regions will be able to pre-order iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max…availability beginning Friday, September 24,” Apple said in a statement.

Customers can get iPhone 13 Pro for Rs 1,19,900 (onwards) and iPhone 13 Pro Max for Rs 1,29,900 (onwards) from Apple’s online store, it added.

The iPhone 13 will be available for Rs 79,900, while iPhone 13 mini will be priced at Rs 69,900.

The phones will also be available through Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers, the statement said.

“Our Pro lineup pushes the limits with our most advanced technologies for users who want the very best iPhone. Best in class performance, best in class camera experience, great durability, larger displays and incredible design. This year, we build on that in a major way,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the launch event on late Tuesday night.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also include 5G with more bands for better coverage.

According to Counterpoint Research Director Tarun Pathak, Apple now has a very aggressive entry point, starting with iPhone SE 2020, going till iPhone 13 Pro Max.

“However, we believe that it’s the iPhone 12 series that is likely to gain traction in India and take on the baton from iPhone 11, that until last quarter captured around 60 per cent of the overall iPhone sales. Apple is likely to capture a 2.4 per cent share in the coming Q4 2021 and will end the year as its highest ever crossing 4 million shipments,” he added.

Pathak noted that the share of the new iPhone within overall Apple sales during the launch quarter increases year-on-year and this year too, it will be the same – driven by iPhone 13.

Apple continues to go aggressive on trade-ins as well, he added.

“We think that iPhone 12 too will benefit from the price cut the most, even better than iPhone 11, and is likely to be the best seller for the festive season. This will also help the premium to reach a record share of the overall smartphone market in India with Apple likely to lead in the launch quarter,” Pathak said.

India is among the key growth drivers for Apple. Strong double-digit growth in markets like India and Latin America had helped the iPhone maker report double-digit revenue growth at USD 81.4 billion – a new record for the June quarter.

The company does not provide country-specific numbers.

Apple, which competes with players like Samsung and OnePlus in the premium smartphone segment, has been aggressively ramping up its presence in the Indian market.

In the past, Apple has talked about plans of setting up brick-and-mortar outlets in India in addition to its online store.

India is among the biggest smartphone markets globally and logging strong growth rates. Smartphone shipment in India grew by 82 per cent in the June 2021 quarter from the year-ago period to over 33 million units. The premium segment – although small – has been growing at a strong pace.

Devices priced under Rs 15,000 account for a significant volume share of the Indian market. Xiaomi (including POCO) accounted for a 28.4 per cent share of June quarter shipments, followed by Samsung (17.7 per cent), Vivo (15.1 per cent), Realme (14.6 per cent) and Oppo (10.4 per cent), as per data from research firm Counterpoint.

According to Apple India’s website, iPhone 13 Pro (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,19,900; 256GB at Rs 1,29,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,49,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,69,900.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,29,900; 256GB at Rs 1,39,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,59,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,79,900.

The iPhone 13 mini will be priced between Rs 69,900 to Rs 99,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB variants, while iPhone 13 will be available at Rs 79,900-1,09,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up our most pro-iPhone lineup ever with the biggest advancement for our camera system, the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and the fastest performance of any smartphone, setting a new standard for iPhone and enabling incredible experiences never before possible, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak said.

The new pro camera system offers even more pro photography capabilities like improved telephoto zoom, macro photography, photographic styles, cinematic mode, as well as ProRes and Dolby vision video, he added.

“The Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion is our best display ever; it intelligently responds to the content on your screen, offers fantastic graphics performance, and is perfect for any viewing experience, he said.

Apple has also introduced the new iPad (9th generation), featuring an A13 Bionic chip that packs even more performance and capability into the most popular iPad, all while retaining its all-day battery life.

The new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone, a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with centre stage, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard, iPad OS 15, and twice the storage of the previous generation (starts with 64GB of storage).

The new iPad, priced at Rs 30,900 onwards, is available to order from Apple’s website and will be available in stores from September 24.

iPad has never been more essential for working, learning, and communicating, and we’re excited to bring one of the biggest updates ever to our most popular iPad.

With the powerful A13 Bionic, more engaging video calls with Centre Stage, and double the storage, the new iPad delivers advanced capabilities, versatility, and simplicity at an incredible value, Joswiak said.

A new iPad mini – with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display – will be available from September 24 and priced at Rs 46,900 onwards.

Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a re-engineered Always-On Retina display – will be available later this year.

Source: Press Trust of India

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India allows 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in telecom reforms

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NEW DELHI: In big bang reforms, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

Briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Cabinet, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said nine structural reforms for the telecom sector were approved.

The definition of AGR, which had been a major reason for the stress in the sector, has been rationalised by excluding non-telecom revenue of telecom companies.

AGR refers to revenues that are considered for payment of statutory dues.

The minister said that 100 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in telecom via the automatic route was approved by the Cabinet.

Among the measures approved were a four-year moratorium on unpaid dues, AGR and spectrum dues, he said.

These measures are expected to ease the cash flow issues being faced by some players in the industry.

“The package announced by the Government aims to usher in structural reforms by infusing investor confidence and provide flexibility to telecom operators with respect to spectrum sharing, surrendering spectrum usage rights etc. One of the key announcements is allowing 100% FDI in the sector which was limited only to 49% from the automatic route. The other significant announcement is to have certainty for auctions in the sector which are slated to be conducted mostly in the last quarter of a financial year. These measure will certainly provide better planning by operators,” Akshat Jain, Partner, J Sagar Associates,

He further added that however, the liability to pay AGR dues continues. The deferment for AGR dues cannot be construed as waiver since the package only envisages a moratorium of four years on such AGR dues from 1st October 2021 (appointed date) with the interest and penalties accruing for such deferral. On other issues such as spectrum payments, bank guarantees etc., the relief appears to be prospective in nature. While this will temporarily provide some relief, it does not essentially alleviate the already bleeding balance sheets of the telecom operators since the dues will ultimately have to be paid with interest. It will be interesting to see whether these measures promote competition in the sector and achieve the desired objectives.

 

With Press Trust of India

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India eyes Rs 35,100 crore from partial sale of Bharatnet network, tower infra

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NEW DELHI: The government of India expects to realise Rs 35,100 crore from the partial sale of Bharatnet fibre assets and around 13,500 mobile towers owned by state-run telecom firms as part of its national monetisation pipeline released on Monday.

Government think tank Niti Aayog has valued over 2.86 lakh kilometre of optical fibre assets laid by BBNL and BSNL under rural broadband project Bharatnet at Rs 26,300 crore, according to the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) document.

According to the document, BSNL’s 13,567 mobile tower assets and MTNL’s 1,350 towers have been valued at Rs 8,800 crore. Both the PSUs jointly own 69,047 mobile towers.

“Indicative monetisation value of Rs 26,300 crores has been considered over FY23 and FY 24. It may be noted that the actual private investment towards these packages could be lower than the estimated capex and a portion of capex may be met out of grant,” the NMP document said.

According to the document, the indicative monetisation value for Bharatnet fibre assets is considered based on a capex approach.

The total approved cost for Bharatnet project is Rs 61,109 crore which includes Rs 42,068 crore for BharatNet (Phase-I and Phase-II) and a maximum of Rs 19,041 crore on viability gap funding (VGF) for implementation of the PPP model of BharatNet in 16 states, according to government information shared in Parliament.

As on March 31, 2021, the government has utilised Rs 24,201 crore for the project.

“The bidding process for this project (Bharatnet) is expected to be initiated during FY’22 and the actual outlay of capex will happen over 2 years from the date of award,” the document said.

According to the NMP, 5,25,706 kilometres of optical fibre has been laid under Bharatnet project which aims to connect all villages in the country with a high speed broadband network.

Earlier the scope of the project was limited to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats which has now been extended to village level.

In the first phase of telecom asset monetisation proposed in FY’23, the NMP estimates to realise Rs 20,180 crore which includes Rs 15,780 crore from Bharatnet fibre and Rs 4,400 crore from mobile tower sale.

In FY’24, Niti Aayog estimates to realise Rs 14,920 crore comprising Rs 10,520 crore from Bharatnet fibre and Rs 4,400 crore from sale of BSNL and MTNL mobile towers.

The NMP proposes to realise 6 lakh crore from asset sale during FY 22-25 across various sectors of which 6 per cent value is expected to be realised from the telecom sector.

“The NMP is meant to serve as an essential roadmap for the Asset monetisation of various brownfield infrastructure assets across roads, railways, shipping, aviation, power, telecom, oil and gas, and warehousing sectors,” the document said.

The government in the union-budget 2021-22 envisioned preparation of NMP to provide a direction to the monetisation initiative and visibility of investors and NITI Aayog was tasked with creation of the NMP for brownfield core infrastructure assets.

Source: Press Trust of India

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