Posted On October 28, 2016 By In Technology And 419 Views

Airtel readying aggressive 4G bundled offers to take on Reliance Jio

KOLKATA: Bharti AirtelBSE 1.57 % will shortly unleash aggressive 4G bundled offers to take on new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, even as India’s No 1 mobile carrier struggles to revive its slowing data revenue growth and boost penetration amid rising competitive intensity. AirtelBSE 1.57 % also plans to approach the regulators to clear up any confusion over providing interconnection points (PoIs) to Jio as it has provided more Pois to the Mukesh Ambani-owned company than any other telco, said Gopal Vittal, managing director, India & South Asia, at Bharti Airtel. “It’s difficult to compete with a free services offer and we expect Jio’s full-fledged price launch to happen sometime in December, but we too will come up with aggressive 4G bundled packs to take them on shortly,” Vittal said without sharing details. He acknowledged that Jio’s free services offer had “put an element of softness” in Airtel’s data revenue growth, adding that he expected the new 4G rival to grab 40 million customers by December-end. Bharti Airtel’s data realisation dipped 10% sequentially in the September quarter. Year-on-year data revenue growth of nearly 24% in the quarter was its slowest so far. Participating in an earnings call on Wednesday, a day after the market leader reported a near 5% on-year fall in net profit in the September quarter, Vittal also said there was confusion at the Trai’s end over the issue of providing PoIs to Jio Infocomm, a view that was shared by Bharti Group chairman Sunil Mittal earlier in the day. “Airtel’s PoI augmentation for Jio has been nothing short of staggering as the number of E1s (interconnect points) provided to the company within a mere five weeks is 2.5 times the levels offered to any other operator in India,” Vittal said. Airtel, he said, would shortly go back to Trai and telecom department to clear up any confusion on the PoI issue, adding that the company is confident that they will take “an objective view” on the matter. Some the confusion on the PoI issue, industry insiders suggested, stemmed from whether incumbent carriers were legally obliged to provide interconnect points to Jio from July itself when there was no clarity on the timing of the latter’s commercial launch. Mittal and Vittal’s comments came a day after Idea CellularBSE -1.46 % MD Himanshu Kapania said the country’s No 3 mobile carrier had not flouted any quality of service norms over provisioning interconnection points to Jio.

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