Your mobile calls may turn pricey in 2023

"The 5G handsets remain expensive, and we will watch out for the introduction of a cheaper 5G device by Jio," report says
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CHENNAI: Mobile phone users are likely to shell out more for their calls with the service providers likely to increase their rates for 4G services, said BNP Paribas Securities in a sectoral report.

According to the report, the telecom operators would also look to lift their average revenue per user (ARPU) from 5G subscribers by offering them larger data quota at a lower cost/GB.

"For CY23, we expect double-digit revenue growth to continue for the industry, with the consolidation trend continuing," BNP Paribas said.

"The 5G handsets remain expensive, and we will watch out for the introduction of a cheaper 5G device by Jio," it notes.

"Delays in fundraising and its inability to invest in 5G could further erode VIL's (Vodofone Idea Ltd) competitive position among postpaid customers. Airtel appears well positioned to benefit from this, in our view. This, on the other hand, remains an overhang for Indus Towers. Airtel is yet to collect 75 per cent of its Rs 210 billion rights issue, which it is set to collect in two tranches. We believe one of the tranches could potentially be collected in 2023," the report said.

According to BNP Paribas, the capex in 2023 by the industry players is set to increase gradually as operators accelerate the pace of 5G network rollout.

"For Indus Towers, we expect 1.5k tower additions and lower q-q revenue and EBITDA as it saw a boost in 2QFY23 revenue from the settlement of old dues," the report said.

As to the events that are likely to happen in 2023, BNP Paribas said the fund raise by VIL and the central government is likely to acquire a stake in the company.

The company's debt exceeds Rs 2 trillion.

The payables to some of its vendors have been delayed and its capex is well below its peers due to its ongoing liquidity issues.

Moreover, VIL's efforts to raise funds have not yielded results. A partial conversion of its dues to the government into equity has also not fructified.

Inability to pay vendors and invest in business could hurt its operations, especially its ability to retain high ARPU postpaid customers, the report said.

During 2023, Jio and Airtel are expected to expand their 5G network. Operators are set to encourage customers to adopt 5G handsets by offering larger data allowances and better speeds.

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