Reliance Jio a tough competition for Airtel: Sunil Mittal

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Sunil Mittal, Chairman of Airtel, stated in an interview, Bharti Airtel sees Reliance Jio Infocomm as a tough competitor but India’s market leader is well placed to take them on given its strong execution over the years, customer focus and spectrum footprint.

After the launch of Reliance Jio, in his first interview Mittal played down the acrimony over the points of interconnection and mobile number portability (MNP) issues with Jio, he also said these will be sorted out over the next few weeks.

“We are a product of competition. AT&T, Hutchinson was here, Etisalat came, Telenor, we are fighting with Idea and Vodafone on a daily basis. So the best and the brightest have been here and so we must have done something right,” Mittal said, referring to Airtel being the No. 1 telco in the country despite intense competition.

He said that the issues with Jio should be sorted through discussion between the parties, and Airtel will be proactive in trying to settle them.

“With every passing week things will get better on the Point of issue. We all agree that the PoI issue needs to stop and it will cease in few weeks. There is a need to have a dialogue between all companies to correct the issues,” Mittal said.

He further said that Airtel would also not create any hurdles to any porting requests to Jio.
Mittal said that he wasn’t surprised by Jio’s free voice and data tariffs. Going forward, voice business will decline and data will be the growth driver, which is why bundled tariff plans would be the norm for the industry with protecting average revenue per user (ARPU) the main focus.

Speaking on the upcoming auctions, Mittal said there was plenty of spectrum put on the table for the first time.

“The government has itself acknowledged that there was indeed a scarcity of spectrum in saying that after this auction operator shouldn’t complain about scarcity of bandwidth. We would like to thank the government for releasing so much bandwidth, he said. “However, I still maintain that the price of 700 Mhz is still very high,” he added.

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