Data drives Ncell revenue growth

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
In 2016, Ncell’s data revenue grew by 70.3 percent with data accounting for 15.9 percent of its total revenue

Feb 25, 2017-Ncell, the largest private sector telecom service provider, posted a 2.4 percent growth in revenue in 2016, driven by a significant rise in its data revenue.

The company generated Rs58.65 billion in revenue for the year, up from Rs57.26 billion in 2015, according to financial report of Ncell’s parent Axiata.

In 2016, Ncell’s EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) witnessed a growth of 2.3 percent and profit after tax jumped 7.8 percent, according to the report.

Axiata has attributed the “strong performance” to higher growth in data revenue. In 2016, Ncell’s data revenue grew by 70.3 percent with data accounting for 15.9 percent of its total revenue. The report shows Ncell witnessed a steady rise in data revenue in all four quarters of 2016.

With an aim of expanding its footprint in the data market, Ncell is planning to roll out 4G service.

Ncell and state-owned Nepal Telecom (NT) had filed applications at Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) in July 2016 seeking permission to start 4G service. While NT has already rolled out the service in Kathmandu and Pokhara in pilot phase, nothing has moved off grounds for Ncell although the company has said it is capable of launching the service within two months of getting approval.

This is largely because the Public Accounts Committee of Legislature Parliament has directed the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) not to allow Ncell to introduce 4G service until its capital gains tax issue is settled.

Compared to the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015, Ncell’s subscription base has increased by 14.4 percent in the same period in 2016.

As of Q4 2016, Ncell has 14.91 million subscribers. Of the total, 14.42 million subscribers are prepaid users. In Q4 of 2015, Ncell had 13.03 million total subscribers. 

The latest MIS (Management Information System) MIS report of NTA states Ncell is the second largest telecom service provider in the country commanding a 44 percent market share. In terms of data too it stands in the second position with 42.43 percent market share.

“We are committed to making 2017 one of our best years. With all the major business and organisational changes made recently, we expect to see better performance especially at Celcom and XL. In South Asia, barring regulatory changes, we are also confident our operating conuntries will continue its momentum of excellent performance particularly at Bangladesh based Robi post-merger and Ncell,” the Axiata report reads.

As per the report, Ncell has 1,915 3G BTS (base transceiver station) towers. A total of 332 BTS towers were added to the Ncell network in the year 2016.

Malaysia-based Axiata has controlling stakes in market leading mobile operators in South East Asia and South Asia, including Ncell. The company had acquired 80 percent stake in Ncell for Rs140 billion ($1.4 billion) last year in the biggest acquisition deal in Nepali history.

Axiata acquired 60.4 percent of Ncell’s shares from TeliaSonera, a telecommunications service provider in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Eurasia and Spain, and another 19.6 percent from SEA Telecom Investments BV, a company owned by Kazakhstan-based Visor.

Published: 25-02-2017 08:14

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