Recent court decision to slam Airtel to stop 3G services in 7 circles where Airtel does not have 3G spectrum is going to a big blow to the A-Vo-Id cartel. Not only it will hamper their pan-India 3G dream, but it comes in a time when Reliance Industries has sealed the deal with Reliance Communications for optic fiber network to roll out 4G services under Reliance Jio brand.
It has been said that Reliance Infocomm influenced the court order against Airtel. And some analysts are talking about consumer interest. But the 3G ICRA by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea is completely illegal; they are just got a pie of 3G spectrum in those circles where they donot have paid for. Also are they offering 3G for cheap? No, and they will never do.
Among the operator trio, only Airtel has 4G spectrum, while in 2010 Vodafone and Idea were reluctent to get 4G spectrum. None of them has pan India 3G spectrum, while Reliance Jio has pan India 4G spectrum on 2300MHz band; and Reliance Communications has pan India GSM and CDMA spectrum. As Reliance has its early history to bend the policies for their benefits, even if there is complication between the two’s network sharing it can be guessed that it will be cleared up.
Not only that Airtel and Vodafone will have to shell out more money as in 2014 in some key circles their licenses will go expired. DoT is acting strong this time, and no renewal for them. They have to take part in the auction of 900MHz band. Even if the reserve price is reduced, any competition on the auction will lift up the price.
Although India’s telecom sector is messed up, there’s high hope for Reliance Jio’s 4G offering. For Reliance Jio the main problem is 2300MHz which is notorious for poor coverage. Also Reliance Jio who obtained spectrum in 2010 has to roll out services by 2015 to meet roll out obligation for BWA players. Reliance Jio should kickstart services very fast manner.
On 4G space, Airtel launched India’s first LTE network in Kolkata, later expanded to Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh also but Airtel 4G never gets major traction from the people. Right now Airtel can not cut down the tariff to push uptake, as Jio will definitely come up with cheaper plans. Airtel got 4G spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Punjab from Qualcomm and should roll out services in Delhi and Mumbai to have a headstart.