India's Bharti Airtel beats quarterly profit estimates on tariff hike

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A girl checks her mobile phone as she walks past the Bharti Airtel office building in Gurugram, previously known as Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

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BENGALURU, May 17 (Reuters) - Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd (BRTI.NS) said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit beat estimates and revenue jumped 22.3%, boosted by a recent tariff hike.

Its average revenue per user (ARPU) - a key performance indicator in the telecom industry - came in at 178 rupees for the quarter, up from 145 rupees from a year earlier. ARPU of rivals Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea for the same period was 167.6 rupees and 124 rupees, respectively.

Airtel, India's second-biggest carrier, said in November when it announced tariff hikes that mobile ARPU needed to be at 200 rupees and ultimately at 300 rupees, for a financially healthy business model.

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The company has been raising money to fund its digital ambitions, including developing home broadband, data centres, cloud adoption as it prepares to launch its next-generation 5G services in the country.

In January, it announced an investment of up to $1 billion from Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O). read more

Airtel said on Sunday it would set up its fourth digital technology hub in the country, as part of plans to expand its in-house digital engineering capabilities.

Its consolidated net profit came in at 20.08 billion rupees for the quarter, up from 7.59 billion rupees a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of 19.78 billion rupees, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The company reported consolidated revenue from operations of 315 billion rupees ($4.06 billion) for the quarter ended March 31, compared with 257.47 billion rupees in the same period last year, according to a regulatory filing.

($1 = 77.5043 Indian rupees)

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Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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