Vodafone Idea’s (Vi) managing director, Ravinder Takkar, has downplayed the smartphone offers from Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Reliance Jio is providing the market with JioPhone Next under the EMI scheme while Airtel is offering a cashback on the purchase of select smartphones. According to an ET Telecom report, speaking to analysts, Takkar downplayed the impact of JioPhone Next and Airtel’s smartphone cashback offer. Takkar said that Vodafone Idea has been proving its users with such an offer for a long time. In fact, Vi also offers financing schemes on refurbished devices. Takkar believes that it is still too early to say how the smartphone offer from either of the telcos will impact the market, but he said that Vi has been providing one such offer for a long-time now.
Tariff Hikes Necessary and 5G Spectrum Reserve Price Should be Cut
Vodafone Idea has been very vocal about the need for tariff hikes in the industry. The telco’s average revenue per user (ARPU) is the worst amongst all the private telecom operators. It needs the increase in ARPU desperately to improve its cash flow. The last tariff hikes came back in 2019. It has been over two years now. But Vi can’t go for tariff hikes until and unless its competitors are doing the same as well.
Further, Vi’s senior management feels like the 5G spectrum’s base or reserve price should be cut to make it more feasible for the telcos to roll out 5G networks faster. Takkar said that if the base price of the 3.5 GHz spectrum band remains the same, it might not see any takers in this auction. The telcos can roll out 5G with the help of 4G spectrum and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) if they don’t get the 5G spectrum for a feasible price. The sector regulator is currently working on deciding a fresh base price for the 5G spectrum and the auctions are expected to take place around April-May.