Ask Airtel some questions today

Bharti Airtel Limited is hosting an earnings call today (Wednesday, August 5). The Mint reports that Airtel’s profits rose 40%, beating analysts’ estimates. Mobile data revenue has increased 56.9% and usage has grown 83%.

Only three months ago, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), of which Airtel is a prominent member, claimed that date rates would have to be increased six times to be sustainable. Reports in The Times of India and The Indian Express.

Airtel is declaring profits to investors and COAI is warning of impending doom to the press. Only one of them can be correct. We urge you to join the public call and ask Airtel management to clarify on how they are affected by Net Neutrality and the growing use of data services.

Details on how to join Airtel’s earnings call:

Bharti airtel Limited will conduct an earnings call for interested parties. Members of the senior management
will present an overview on the performance of the company and shall respond to queries of the participants. The call will take place at 2:30 pm IST on Wednesday Aug 5, 2015.

To participate in the conference call, please dial the numbers, ten to fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The
call will be attended by a conference coordinator, who will provide necessary instructions during the call. For
further assistance, if any, participants may press *0 on their telephone instrument.

Toll, Bangalore: +91-80-44449999
Toll, Mumbai: +91-22-44449999
Toll, New Delhi: +91-11-44449999
Pass code: 63479

Questions you can ask

  1. Investor reports indicate an increase in profits and data revenues for (a) Airtel, (b) IDEA, and (c) Vodafone. This contradicts your view of OTTs eating into your revenues. Please explain.

  2. What is the Internal Rate of Return for individual telecom operators over a 5 year period? Markets have competition, and if the smaller telecom operators are in trouble, why should the government bail them out? Telecom operators themselves say that there is high competition, and there are too many telecom operators in India. Why should the situation of a few telecom operators be used to benefit those who are doing well, to the detriment of consumers?

  3. In November, Airtel and other operators requested the government to drastically bring down the USOF levy that they pay, by arguing that they were already doing a good job of providing rural connectivity. How then are they now arguing that they must have a right to charge a levy from Internet companies in order to fund rural connectivity? (source: Economic Times)

  4. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said in February that Airtel doesn't require any additional investment in CapEx for enabling data services. Where is the need for infrastructure investment required for providing data services then?

  5. Won’t Zero Rating create a situation where telecom operators will carry content only for those companies that pay them?

  6. What are the privacy issues related to Zero Rating, and what sort of usage will telecom operators be able to track? Will they not be able to see exactly what content is being viewed by each user?

  7. Will zero rated services, platforms such as Airtel Zero and harm smaller players and startups? Do you have any selection criteria outside of money for zero rating? How do we ensure that there is no discrimination in this selection?

  8. Why should we not institute price control mechanisms for Internet access to ensure that rates are not increased six times?

  9. It was reported that Ogle, a video streaming site backed by former Rajya Sabha MP Pritish Nandy’s Pritish Nandy Communications, was being throttled and slowed down by Airtel. How can we prevent throttling of content?

  10. Measurement Lab (M-Lab) reported in 2012 that Airtel and other ISPs had been throttling BitTorrent traffic in India (read here). Does this not contradict Airtel’s pledge (point 5) about having never done this?

  11. If Airtel supports Net Neutrality, and had said in its pledge that they’ve never done fast lanes, how is it that their broadband “Games on Demand” service automatically upgraded to 2 Mbps, which is a fast lane?

  12. Should a moratorium be placed to prevent any violations of net neutrality, such as and Airtel Zero, till the consultation process is on, or a definite law is framed?

  13. How will licensing of Whatsapp, Viber etc help reduce the regulatory burden on telecom companies? Why aren’t they seeking the liberalization of telecom, instead of bringing the Internet companies down to their level?

  14. Airtel Zero is a very opaque platform even though you pitch it as an open platform. What steps have you taken to ensure transperancy? Why aren’t you making those steps public?

  15. With Airtel Zero, what is the projected revenue realization from internet companies, and what is the projected revenue shortfall from end users who stop paying for data?

  16. If regulations enforcing strong Net Neutrality are passed – i.e. no licensing of VoIP and no Zero Rating – what will be the impact on future earnings?