28 July, 2021

Gladiators In The Data Ring

Jio’s entry has shaken up Indian telecom, ­forcing other players to opt for mergers to stay in the game

Prime Mover
Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani at the Jio launch
Gladiators In The Data Ring

On the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, Bharti Airtel promoter Sunil Mittal pushed other telecom players in ­India to go for consolidation in the dog-eat-dog competitive telecom market. Mittal’s desperate call came just a couple of days after his company Airtel announced the ­acquisition of Norwegian telecom company Telenor’s Indian operations.

Last month, India’s number two and number three players Vodafone and Idea Cellular announced a proposal to merge to create the largest telecom company in the country. This is by far the largest consolidation move in the history of Indian telecom.

Over the last year or so, pushed by low revenues and losses, telecom companies have been desperately looking for a way to make the numbers look good. Most of the smaller players have either shut shop or exited, while the rest have merged with bigger companies to consolidate operations. Now even bigger companies are joining hands to consolidate the sector in one of its worst times. The coming of Reliance Jio with free ­offers...

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