Airtel, Vodafone, Idea & Jio Spar over Initial Connect
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, and 4G newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm are sparring yet again, this time over a workable timeline within which a telco needs to provide ports for initial interconnection and augmentation.
Recently, Jio claimed 16 million subscribers, which is an all time record. Few analysts believe, that by the end of the preview offer, the network, which has been adding 1-1.2 million subscribers a day, will likely have 25 million 4G customers. This compares with Airtel, which has 35 million 3G and 4G users, and Vodafone and Idea, which together have 25 million. According to some experts, they have estimated that in next three years Jio could have 100 million subscribers. If this turns true, then there will be more than 2.5 times the number of subscribers Jio will require to breakeven. Brokerage Religare had stated that to breakeven at the EBITDA level, the network must have at least 40 million subscribers.
Demand for Voice over LTE phones in the country had surged since Jio was launched in September. VoLTE technology allows voice calls to be transmitted as data, while a 4G network is being used. According to reports, 80% of LTE compatible Smartphone shipped during the July-September quarter were VoLTE enabled, as compared to 63% in Q2 and 30% in Q1. By the first half of 2017, 90% of all LTE enabled phones to be shipped into India will use VoLTE technology. Samsung, Lyf, Lenovo and Xiaomi are among the leading brands in the VoLTE category, which effectively means that VoLTE will become the default basic minimum Smartphone technology in the country.
The chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd, Mukesh Ambani said at its launch that Jio will be offering the lowest data tariffs in the country, and it will also allow users to make voice calls for free not just on its network but also from Jio to other networks. The company also gave free trial for four months to their customers. On the other hand, other networks like Airtel also announced cheap data plans to compete with Jio. Taking a closer look, you will notice that Jio’s offering was certainly the cheapest, but it was not cheaper by much. Even though, it had shaken the data market. Alike Jio, no other operator had revolutionized the data market in the past.