Bharti Airtel CEO, Gopal Vittal, spoke at the FICCI Frames 2023 conference in Mumbai, where he stated that direct-to-consumer OTT players must collaborate to overcome the distribution challenge, with telecom operators like Bharti Airtel to tackle challenges.
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Distribution Challenge for OTT Players
Vittal explained that there are currently different regulations for different content delivery pipelines, such as cable, DTH, and streaming applications. He went on to say that the business model that OTT platforms operate on needs to change, otherwise, many will perish, according to a report by ETTelecom.
Vittal also stressed that Airtel has no intention of competing with content companies and that Airtel can help OTT players reach its customer base of 330 million as an ally. He highlighted the telecom industry's importance, as it has been instrumental in the growth of industries like cab hailing and food delivery apps.
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Airtel's 5G Rollout Status and Monetization Challenges
Regarding the 5G rollout, Vittal confirmed that Bharti Airtel has already launched its 5G services in 3500 towns, with Airtel 5G Plus planned to be present in 7000 towns and nearly 100,000 villages by March 2024. However, 5G monetization and resulting ARPU growth will only happen with tariff hikes, and at present, both Airtel and competitor Reliance Jio are offering 5G services for free.
Increased Data Consumption with Launch of Airtel's 5G Services
The launch of 5G services has resulted in increased data consumption, according to Vittal. He added that Airtel is committed to helping OTT players overcome the distribution and monetization challenges they face and that the company can help them solve the distribution problem.
In its most recent 5G Rollout, Bharti Airtel has announced the availability of its ultra-fast 5G service to customers in 3000 cities and towns in India. Airtel 5G Plus offers ultra-fast speeds up to 20-30 times faster than 4G. Prior to this largest rollout announcement, Airtel 5G Plus launch was announced in Lakadh.