India’s second largest mobile operator reported net profits of INR3.34 billion (USD73.3 million) for the three months to 30 September, up from INR930 million a year ago, on the back of a 63% hike in revenues to INR18.6 billion. Falling prices in India have fuelled a surge in demand for mobile services, and helped Bharti boost its subscriber base 85% year-on-year to 9.5 million users. The dramatic rise in new additions helped counteract a decline in average revenue per user (ARPU), which dipped to INR509 from INR515 the previous quarter. The company, which is 28% owned by SingTel, hopes to consolidate its position with chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal saying that ‘the biggest challenge before us is to sustain our market share and improve our profits’. Competition in the wireless market is intense: around two million new users are being added each month resulting in the total number of GSM users reaching 33.56 million by 30 September 2004, a cellular penetration rate of 3.12%.
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