Vodafone Idea will loose 50-70 mn subscribers in next 12 months, Fitch

Vodafone-Idea, recently merged to become Vi lost over 155 million subscribers in the last nine quarters. In the next 12 months, the company is expected to lose up to 50 million-70 million subscribers according to Fitch Ratings. Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are expected to add Idea’s customers.

The report suggests that Reliance Jio could add more than half of Vodafone’s customers while Bharti Airtel is expected to add the rest. “We expect Bharti and Reliance Jio to increase their combined revenue market share to 80 percent (September 2020: around 74 percent) in the next 12-18 months,” said Fitch Ratings.

Vodafone-Idea falling

After the merger of Vodaphone and Idea, it lost more of its ground to its rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel as its revenue share dipped by 22 basic points (bps) following 22.6 percent in the September quarter. Experts suggest the reason behind the fall is lower network-related spending that led to losing subscribers.

Meanwhile, Jio reported 34 bps gains in the quarter, increasing its market revenue share to 41.3 percent during July-September. Bharti Airtel was stable at 34.2 percent said Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) latest financial data.

Vi’s rapid fall

Vodafone Idea is losing subscribers swiftly due to its weakened balance sheet and pressure on its financial flexibility. To overcome the present situation, according to Fitch, the company is hoping to raise $3.4 billion through equity and debt. However, the amount is not sufficient to restore its position in the market.

The company paid $1.1 billion of its dues of $8.9 billion that it has to pay to the Department of Telecommunications for the AGR. The supreme court judgment related to the AGR has left a serious blow to that company which has been in trouble already.

Vi mobile

The company has said it is working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and consumer finance companies to produce affordable smartphones for its customers in India. Also, it has signed partnerships with big players in Health and Wellness, Learning and Upskilling and to offer benefits to its customers. 

The company also signed deals with upGrad, Udemy, 1mg, MFine, Eunimart, Pedagogy, cure.fit, and many others and also looking to partners more so it can offer digital products and services in the near future. 

“It is going to be a meaningful revenue stream…this (the partnerships) is again something that we have very clearly outlined as one of our strategic moves as we move forward… A strong source of revenue for us as we move this agenda forward,” said the Marketing Director of the company, Avneesh Khosla.

Rivals growing stronger

Reliance Jio recently announced that its subscribers base has touched the 40.56 crore mark in September 2020. During the last quarter, the company added 73 lakh while it added 99 lakh subscribers in the quarter prior. Jio said it generated around Rs. 145 per subscriber per month during the second quarter. 

“With large capital raise in the last six months across Jio and Retail business, we have welcomed several strategic and financial investors into Reliance family. We continue to pursue growth initiatives in each of our businesses with a focus on the India opportunity,” said Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited, in a statement.

While Bharti Airtel has been moving slowly towards stability after the blow in the telecom sector due to the entry of Reliance Jio. During the second quarter (July-September) the net loss of the company narrowed to Rs. 763 crores. Last year, during the same quarter, the company posted a loss of Rs. 23, 045 crores.

During August 2020, Airtel managed to add more customers than Jio, according to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Airtel added around 28.99 lakh subscribers while Jio added 18.64 lakh subscribers. However, during this month, Vodafone lost 12.28 lakh subscribers.

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