Will the Indian Telecom sector Witness its Biggest Marriage yet?
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
The who’s who of India’s business circuit was found rubbing shoulders at the first edition of India Mobile Congress. But what turned heads at the event was arch rivals Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal, sharing the stage and calling each other ‘friends’.
Unless one has been living under a rock, one would know that they have been business opponents for ages and this rivalry touched its peak with the introduction of Reliance’s Jio. It not just affected the stocks of Airtel but also forced it to cut down its rates heavily to continue attracting consumers.
However, at the India Mobile Congress in Delhi, the cold war vibe was slowly giving way to a convincing understanding of sorts. Mittal spoke about how they want to build things for the future with Ambani with a marked confidence and to a baffled audience.
Be it a joint venture or not, the collaboration of the duo could very well mean one of the biggest teleco marriages in the recent history of India.
Arch Rivals Come Together for a Digital Economy
Both Mittal and Ambani spoke about how they are working towards creating a digital economy for India. Talking about how the big names of the tech industry are paying attention to India, Mittal even spoke about how Airtel is ready to pump in INR 20,000 crore as investments to make way for the digital drive. Agreeing with him on this point was Ambani, who said while India might have missed the earlier industrial revolutions, as we are at the brink of the fourth industrial revolution, India is ready to take the lead.
While Mittal spoke about the future lying in autonomous cars, AI-based doctors and bots, Ambani emphasized on how data is the new oil, only this time, we don’t need to import it.
Monopoly Can Play Foul
While everyone has been going gaga about Reliance’s Jio, monopoly created by the same could only lead to disaster. Instead of consumer-led rates it would lead to the dominance of a company with rates dictated by them. The launch of Jio had led to rumours about Reliance trying to create a monopoly in the market.
However, things seem to have taken a different turn now. Mittal spoke about how they would like to collaborate with Reliance to build a futuristic product. At the same time, he mentioned, “India will be a market of 3+1 operators, the telecom sector offers a lot of growth potential,” referring to Airtel acquiring Telenor, the Idea-Vodafone merger and Reliance along with the state led BSNL.
Ambani too didn’t shy away from saying how the way forward was with everyone “chipping in”.
Are Start-ups on the Profitable Side?
While he took the stage to talk about Reliance’s ambitious plans for a digital economy, it was evident that Ambani wasn’t ignoring the start-up revolution. Calling India a nation of million start-ups, Ambani stressed upon the importance of Artificial Intelligence. He went on to add that mobile internet and cloud computing are the foundations of the fourth industrial revolution. This will evidently give a boost to start-ups operating in these areas, as bigger corporations like Reliance would turn to start-ups to reach out to the deepest corners of the country.