Idea Top Executive Throws Shade at Reliance Jio at First India Mobile Congress
As top executives from various telecom operators, government entities, and other technology giants shared stage on Wednesday to express their positive vision for the country at the first India Mobile Congress event, one executive has had enough of it. Himanshu Kapania, the managing director of Idea Cellular, walked to the podium to address “the elephant in the room,” referring to Reliance Jio.
“India’s telecom has been a vital drive for the growth of our economy,” black-suited Kapania said as he gazed at a crowd of about 1,000 people. “We have added a billion people in the last seven years,” he said, sharing the stage with executives of Vodafone, Airtel, as well as Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defence Minister of India, who until recently oversaw the telecommunication department.Read more ↓
Without calling out any names, Kapania pointed fingers at a telecom operator that has been “bundling data for free, offering voice calls for free,” for the decline in revenue in the telecom industry as of late, the “first” he has seen in the 22 years of his experience in the space, he said. “No industry can survive falling voice and data tariffs,” he said. “Recent market dynamics have given us a lot of mental stress,” he added.
Reliance Jio, which was launched commercially last year, was able to get more than 100 million subscribers in less than six months through bundled free Internet access that it offered for much of the initial months, and extremely affordable data plans that it has offered since. It offered free voice calls from day one, and continues to do so. Incumbent players such as Idea, Vodafone, and Airtel have expressed their disappointment over Reliance Jio publicly at numerous occasions.
Kapania also expressed his disappointment at the abolition of interconnect usage charges, something that analysts say has served as a substantial revenue source for the company. Telecommunications regulator TRAI announced that interconnect charges that telecom operators impose on each other for handling calls would be cut by half starting next month, and would be completely abolished starting 2020. Analysts have said that Reliance Jio will be the single biggest beneficiary of the announcement.
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