The company said in a statement that revenue declined mainly on account of down-trending of average revenue per user (ARPU), which stood at Rs 100 as against Rs 105 in Q4FY18. "The Indian mobile industry continued to decline under from heavily discounted unlimited voice and bundled data plans and subsidised 4G phone offerings from one of the operators," Idea said in a statement.
In fact, Idea Cellular reported the lowest ARPU among the other telecom majors for the Q1FY19 thanks to its largely rural customer base. Reliance Jio's ARPU was Rs 134.5, Bharti Airtel's Rs 105 and Vodafone's Rs 102.
"Idea Cellular’s Q1FY19 performance was very weak on account of steeper than anticipated decline in ARPUs and muted subscriber addition on overall basis as well as data subscriber additions, is concerning," said ICICI Securities.
Telecom majors are locked in price wars and continue to see a downward trend in ARPUs. Analysts expect the trend to continue in the coming quarters.
The silver lining for Idea was that during the quarter under review, the voice volume usage was up 5.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) at Rs 349.5 billion minutes, while the data volumes for the quarter was up by 24.5 per cent QoQ.
Idea's rival Jio posted a Rs 6.1 billion net profit during the quarter, up 20 per cent sequentially, and also reported the highest ARPU in the industry. Jio's ARPU too, however, fell marginally from Rs 137 in Q4FY18. Reliance's telecom arm, however, saw the revenue jump 13.8 per cent sequentially beating street estimates.
Bharti Airtel reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 970 million for the June quarter (riding on an exceptional gain of Rs 5.15 billion). For its India operations, Bharti Airtel reported a net loss of Rs 9.4 billion.
Idea is in the last leg of merging with Vodafone India Ltd, and together they will create India's largest telecom player and the world's second largest with nearly 408 million subscribers.