Smartphone users boost Reliance Communications profit


MUMBAI (Reuters) - Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom), India's fourth-biggest mobile carrier by customers, saw quarterly profit rise 86 percent over the year before as more subscribers used smartphones to surf the internet.

The company, which tied up with Facebook on Feb. 10 to provide basic internet services on mobile phones for free, said on Friday consolidated net profit for its fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31 was 2.01 billion rupees (21.01 million pounds), compared with 1.08 billion rupees in the same quarter a year earlier.

In November, market research firm IDC said India was the fastest-growing smartphone market in the Asia-Pacific region with a 27 percent sequential rise in the third quarter.

But smartphones still didn't make up for half of the overall 72.5 million units as of the third quarter, making India a fast growing market for handset makers and network carriers.

Total data traffic during the quarter rose 83 percent over the year before, RCom said in a statement.

The company, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, said data traffic increased due to a boost in both subscribers and higher data usage per customer.

Average revenue per user, a key measure of health for telecom companies, was up 3.6 percent over the second quarter.

Total income came in at 54.35 billion rupees, up from 51.57 the year before.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Mumbai; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee and Mark Potter)