Digital Business To Contribute Revenue Soon, Says Sunil Mittal
Digital business is expected to start contributing to revenue in the next few quarters for Bharti Airtel Ltd. as demand for such services spiked during the pandemic, according to Sunil Mittal.
Wynk Music App, Airtel Thanks (with over 10 crore customers), and Airtel Payments Bank (over 5 crore active users) will be the drivers of digital revenues, Mittal, chairman of the telecom operator, said at the 26th Annual General Meeting of the company. Focus on new products like work-from-home solutions, Airtel Secure (enterprise cybersecurity), Airtel Cloud, and BlueJeans (videoconference service) will aid the segment, he said.
The pandemic saw an increase in data consumption as employees logged in remotely. Telecom carriers have rolled out end-to-end services to help businesses and consumers.
Bharti Airtel’s network handled extreme traffic and calling patterns during the last year during Covid-19, Mittal said. It was able to manage the shift of traffic from urban to rural areas, and from office clusters to homes, he said.
The company has acquired adequate spectrum in the recent auctions and improved infrastructure by adding 22,000 towers and 1 lakh mobile broadband stations to improve quality.
Focus On ‘Quality’ Consumers
The carrier is focusing on mid to high-end users, Mittal said, and its ‘Airtel Black’ services that combines postpaid, DTH, and broadband is aimed at acquiring such customers. Airtel has 30 lakh homes with high-speed broadband and 1.8 crore DTH subscribers, just 20 lakh short of its target, he said.
The focus is on building a robust ecosystem with a lighter balance sheet.
The Africa business is generating healthy cash flows and paying dividends regularly. Mittal expects the leverage of Airtel Africa to come down from 2 times to 1.5 times, aided by sale of towers and a stake in Airtel Money.
The company’s board has also approved the rights issue of up to Rs 21,000 crore at Rs 535 apiece. The funds, according to Mittal, will help accelerate the rollout of fibre, prepare the network for 5G, and aid growth of the data center business.