Sunil Mittal set for a 4G battle in India ahead of Reliance Jio launch

Sunil Mittal, Bharti Enterprises (Airtel) Chairman, reckons that Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio will bring down prices and further consolidation as the telecom market shrinks to five operators, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Miital said that Reliance Jio will offer low-priced devices in order to win customers, forcing big players like Airtel and number two operator Vodafone to respond in kind.

Reliance Industries is spending more than $16bn on Jio’s 4G network, the largest greenfield investment in Indian history.
Airtel, on the other hand, is putting $9bn into network improvements and new mobile spectrum over the next three years, adding to the $23bn the company has invested since it launched in 1995.

Airtel invested more than $4bn last year in anticipation of the arrival of Reliance Jio 4G business.

Mittal is of the view that Jio’s entry will fundamentally reshape the Indian telecom sector by lowering the number of major operators from 10 to five. He also described Reliance Jio as “formidable competition.”

The India market is already seeing consolidation with RCom taking over smaller operator Sistem Shyam Teleservices (SSTL). The Anil Ambani-led company is also working on a possible 50:50 joint venture with Aircel. The three operators together claimed more than 19% of the market at end-2015.

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