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Vi rollout 5G by Dec, spend Rs 50,000cr over 3 years

Akshaya Moondra said the company expects capital expenditure of the company to be in the range of Rs 50,000-Rs 55,000 crore over the next three years with focus on expanding and strengthening 4G coverage.

‘Our topmost priority is 4G coverage because that is to my mind the only reason why we continue to lose subscribers. That capex will be fairly accelerated.

‘Rest of the investments in capacity growth will happen as the traffic grows. We expect that we should be rolling out 5G on a large scale from about six months from now. The main focus is going to be the main cities or other areas where there is a large concentration of 5G devices. We will make investments as the market evolves,’ Moondra said.

He said the company’s investment will focus on expanding and strengthening coverage in 17 priority circles to be competitive.

‘We need to focus on expanding coverage in 17 priority circles so that we are competitive. We will be investing in non-priority circles as well,’ Moondra said.

VIL CEO said the company has been losing customers because of weak network coverage and the investment will help the company arrest customer churn.

‘As far as decongestion is concerned, we should be able to start adding capacity in a couple of months from now. Maybe even faster. Capacity addition of decongestion should stop in two months.

‘As far as coverage is concerned, I believe we will be able to start the rollout against that requirement in 3-4 months from now and we should be able to complete the large part of coverage to be completely competitive in a period of 12-15 months,’ Moondra said.

VIL total customer base has declined 5.7 per cent to 21.3 crore from 22.6 crore in the March 2023 quarter. The company reported an increase in the share of post-paid customers of about 1.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

The 4G subscriber base of VIL increased to 12.63 crore from 12.26 crore on a year-on-year basis during the period under review.

‘More importantly, what we believe will happen, is that with the improvement of experience of network and coverage, we will be able to retain more subscribers who we lose today because of lack of 4G coverage,’ Moondra said.

VIL has posted widening losses to Rs 7,675 crore in the March quarter amid a rise in interest and financing cost, while its overall subscriber base shrunk.

The consolidated revenue of operations remained almost flat at Rs 10,607 crore during the reported quarter.

For the year ended March 31, 2024, VIL posted widening of losses to Rs 31,238.4 crore from Rs 29,301.1 crore a year ago. The annual revenue from operations was marginally higher by 1.1% to Rs 42,651.7 crore from Rs 42,177.2 crore in 2022-23.

The total debt of the company stood around Rs 2,07,630 crore as on March 31, 2024.

The company has approval of the board to raise Rs 45,000 crore, of which it has already raised Rs 20,075 crore, comprising Rs 18,000 crore through follow-on-public offer (FPO) and Rs 2,075 crore through preferential equity allotment to an Aditya Birla Group firm.

VIL said it is in discussions with a consortium of banks to raise up to Rs 25,000 crore and additional non-fund-based facilities of up to Rs 10,000 crore. PTI

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