Bharti Airtel’s strategy of focusing on data subscribers while removing the low revenue customers has helped the teleco in replacing Vodafone Idea to become the second largest player in terms of mobile revenues.

However, along with a steady rise in mobile data customers, network and content costs is on the rise for Airtel. Airtel’s mobile revenues for the April-June quarter (Q1) accounted for Rs 108.66 billion. Meanwhile, Vodafone Idea reported an overall revenue figure of Rs 112.69 billion for Q1, which can be adjusted by Rs 6 billion as revenues from enterprise segment to reach Rs 106.69 billion for mobile revenues. Reliance Jio led the market with Rs 116.79 billion in mobile revenues.

Airtel lost 1.5 million subscribers in June quarter, against 14 million subscribers lost by Vodafone Idea. The operating expenditure costs of Airtel for the past two years has seen 7.5 per cent growth YoY. Whereas the telco’s mobile revenues witnessed YoY growth of 3.7 per cent for Q1 2019. In comparison, Vodafone Idea saw revenue slipping 4 per cent sequentially.

The main challenges for the telcos are lack of a counter to JioPhone and smaller 4G coverage.