Mobile, WiFi and Landline Telecommunication in India

Panicking Vodafone-Idea users are porting to Airtel and Reliance Jio — but that might not be the solution they're looking for

Prabhjote Gill | Jan 20, 2020, 14:18 IST

Subscribers are asking to port to other telecom networks on Twitter

Vodafone-Idea users are increasingly looking to port their numbers to other telecom providers.

Changing telecom providers is unlikely to make things better as Reliance Jio and Airtel come with their own set of issues.

Vodafone-Idea's subscribers have been falling since last year recording a loss of 36.4 million users in November.

Amid fears of Vodafone-Idea leaving the Indian market, users are porting out as well.

If Vodafone goes belly-up, its 336 million subscribers will be up for grabs. It's a big chunk of the market that will now have to decide between Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. And, that is good news for Airtel and Reliance Jio as India's telecom sector will effectively become a duopoly that will lead to increase in tariffs, hurting the consumers.

A quick review of the Vodafone's Twitter account shows that more users than usual are submitting requests to port their numbers to other telecom operators. Although users don't necessarily specify their reasons for leaving on the public forum, Vodafone asks them to send a direct message explaining why they want to leave before approving portability.

Vodafone Idea told Business Insider that they are currently unable to comment on the issue or the frequency of people porting their connections to other networks ahead of the earnings report.

Subscribers and looming debt of the telecom sector

Vodafone Idea's subscriber base has continuously been falling since March 2019. In November, its gross subscriber base lost 36.4 million users — more than half of whom were from rural regions. Industry analysts at Emkay feel this may largely be due to the last leg of Vodafone's subscriber base clean up.

Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, added 1.7 million users to its gross user base and 3.7 million net subscribers. Reliance Jio has a total of 370 million subscribers at the end of December 2019.

The company has to pay up half a trillion rupees to the government in unexpected dues related to licencing fees and spectrum usage charges, going back 20 years, after the recent Supreme Court verdict. This, at a time, when the company already has a back-breaking debt of ₹98,000 crore.

As it scrambles for funds ⁠— with bankers turning wary ⁠— Vodafone has been bleeding subscribers, fielding call-drop complaints, and posting net losses over the last three years.

Regardless of whether Read wants to leave India or not, Vodafone may not have a choice if it simply doesn't have the money. "It has cash merely to continue operations for the next two-three quarters," said Motilal Oswal in a report.

Shareholders of the three companies, Airtel, Reliance Industries, and Vodafone Idea, have already priced in a possible duopoly in Indian telecom since the Supreme Court of India declined a review petition.

CompanyShare change since ThursdayVodafone Idea-0.99%Bharti Airtel35.4%

Jio is happy letting the low-spenders go⁠— but where will they go?

Marginal users who were using Jio only for dirt-cheap voice are leaving the network, according to CFO Alok Agarwal.

Airtel, with its own debt of about ₹35,586 crore, will also be happy to adopt the same strategy. That will leave India's millions of first-time phone users who were brought on board by the tariff war, with two options ⁠— spend more of their limited income on keeping the phone or opt-out of it altogether if it is unaffordable.

Last year, Vodafone's CEO Nick Read said that the company could exit the market if the government doesn't offer any relief. Even though he later apologised and clarified that Vodafone has no plans to leave India — many analysts still feel that the company is teetering on the edge of survival.

See also:

Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone have 10 days to submit their bids for 5G trials while a lot remains undecided

Disadvantage Jio — Airtel and Vodafone Idea will continue to charge for calls on their network

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Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone have 10 days to submit their bids for 5G trials while a lot remains undecided









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Airtel reaches new heights as it launches 4G in Ladakh's 26 villages

IANS | Jan 3, 2020, 08:52 IST

Airtel launches 4G services in 26 Ladakh villages

Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Thursday launched its 4G and 2G services in 26 villages in Ladakh to become the first operator offering high speed mobile broadband to these high altitude regions.

These villages are spread across the 150 km stretch from Kargil-Batalik-Hanuthang-Skurbuchan-Khalsi.

"This is a New Year gift from Airtel to the people of Ladakh. We are pleased to bring cheers to thousands of locals in Ladakh with the launch of our 4G & 2G services and bring 26 new villages on the world map for 4G," Manu Sood, Hub CEO - Upper North, Bharti Airtel, said in a statement.

"We remain committed to the government's 'Digital India' vision and will continue to invest in Ladakh," he added.

The 4G services will enable local residents to enjoy digital services like HD quality video streaming, superfast downloads and uploads, and high speed Internet browsing.

The launch underlines the efforts of Airtel's network teams to overcome the challenges of harsh weather and tough terrain in the region to empower the citizens of these villages, the telco said.

As part of Airtel's ongoing nationwide network transformation initiative - Project Leap, Airtel was the first operator to launch 4G services in Ladakh's Leh, Kargil & Dras in December 2017.

The expansion also marks second anniversary of the launch of 4G services in the region by Airtel.



Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone have 10 days to submit their bids for 5G trials while a lot remains undecided

Prabhjote Gill | Jan 2, 2020, 08:18 IST


Indian telecom players have 5 days to submit fresh bid for the 5G spectrum trialsBusiness Insider India

The government has announced that telecom operators have 5 days to submit their bid for 5G trials in the next ten days.

However, there are a few, but crucial, details about the 5G rollout that are yet to be decided.

This includes Huawei’s participation that still hinges on conditions and the lack of pricing of the 26 GHz band — marked for super-fast connectivity.

Telecom operators — like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea — have 10 days to submit their bids for the upcoming 5G trials.

But there’s still a lot of uncertainty around how 5G networks are going to work. From Huawei’s participation to the coveted 26 GHz band, telecom companies have a tough ride ahead of them.

Even though the government has said, time and again that its vision is to see India lead the world in 5G, the process has been plagued by continued delays. 5G networks are already live in South Korea, the US and China while India is yet to test its connectivity.

The Department of Telecommunication declared that the auction for the 5G spectrum will take place between March and April 2020 but is yet to specify when the network trials will begin.

Shorter time, fewer airwaves

Instead of the usual 365 days to test network connectivity, the Indian government is only giving telecom operators 6-months to try out their 5G technology.

The good news is that they will allowed to bid for the 26 GHz band — recognised by the Global System for Mobile (GSM) as one of three bands capable of delivering super-fast speeds.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is yet to set a floor price for the airwaves.

In addition, the quantum of airwaves that they will be able to auction is not specified either. This includes the 3300-3600 MHz band and the 700 MHz band. The government asserts that operators will be given as much as they seek, depending on the use case proposals.

China cheers for Huawei and India remains cautious

China has hailed India’s decision to include the Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE in the upcoming 5G trials. The companies themselves are excited about the prospect to supply one of the biggest telecommunications markets in the world. But, there’s a catch.

While Huawei will be allowed to participate in the trials, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be allowed to set up shop when 5G officially gets deployed.

"The telecom department will evaluate 5G trials for security vulnerabilities before taking a final call on the vendors who will be allowed to deploy the next generation airwaves in the country," a source told ET.

China’s celebration of the decision may be premature if Huawei doesn’t meet the Indian government’s requirements. India’s stand is understandably cautious. It has to balance the US pressuring its allies to ban Huawei against China threatening the country with economic sanctions. Nonetheless, it poses a conundrum for telecom operators.

Even if they’re willing to choose Huawei as their vendor, there’s no certainty if or when the Indian government might pull its support. The decision already facing pressure on the domestic front from the economic wing of the Swadeshi Jagram Manch (SJM).

"Presence of Chinese companies in our telecommunication network would compromise on the nation’s security," SJM wrote in a letter to Prime Minister earlier this week.

The high price of the 5G spectrum — 30-40% more expensive than South Korea and the US, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India ( COAI) — combined with licensing fees and low average return per user have telecom operators in a financial bind.

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are still struggling despite having hiked tariffs in December. With many details yet to be decided, they only have 10 days to plan for 5G and submit fresh bids to the Indian government.

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Five reasons why telecom operators may win the battle for 5G against ISRO


DEC 19, 2019, 10:52 IST

Telecom operators and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are caught in a battle of the 26 GHz band.

The former argues that the airwaves are integral for keeping 5G affordable while the latter says the radio waves with important satellite communications.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) has passed the buck to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to decide whether or not the 26 GHz band will be available during the upcoming 5G spectrum auction.

India plans roll out 5G services next year but telecom operators and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are battling it out over premium bandwidth. And, the outcome lies in the hands of the Department of Telecommunications ( DoT).

Both want the coveted 26 GHz band under their watch. Telecom operates want it, not because there aren’t other options, but because those particular airwaves are one of the few able to provide ultra-high 5G speeds.

On the other hand, ISRO claims that operation along that same band will interfere with satellite communication — putting emergency services and weather forecasting at risk.

The Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) passed the buck to the DoT to decide whether or not the 26GHz band will be put up for sale during the auction — scheduled to take place within this financial year.

“Spectrum in the 26 Ghz band is something that DoT can decide. It has to make up its mind if it wants to use 26 Ghz for 5G. Our job is to recommend base price only,” said TRAI Chairman Ram Sewak Sharma as per an ETT report.

Here are six reasons why telecom operators are likely to win the 26 GHz band:



Senior Billi
I think Huawei is winning the struggle against USA govt.

UK considers using Huawei equipment in its 5G networks
Bloomberg14 January 2020
Boris Johnson suggested his government may be ready to allow Huawei Technologies Co. to supply at least some equipment for its 5G broadband networks even in the face of strong pressure for a ban from the U.S.

“The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology,” Johnson said when asked about Huawei in a BBC TV interview on Tuesday. “We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. If people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.”

The U.K. for months has been debating how much, if any, access to grant Huawei to its broadband market in the future amid the suggestion the U.S. may be more wary of sharing intelligence if it uses Chinese equipment. Senior U.S. officials visited London on Monday...
In India they may win tenders from some vendors if not all.
Huawei has strong Market experts.
A BCMTian is also in same company.
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Senior Billi
They seem to understand the challenges in less developed countries better than Europeans/americans.

It reminds me, company i was working at, 1998...using fingerprint scanners for social grant payments in rural areas, mobile with those low budget Toyota trucks. The first contract was for Namibia. SAGEM fingerprint scanners, French. Pilot tests, the scanners did not work right. Because bright sunlight caused issues! French design engineers had not considered how it will be with real Sun. So they had to change it.
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BREAKING NEWS: Who is creating this nonsense; is there no law left in country: SC slams telecom companies over dues

Feb 14, 2020 12:31 PM

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also warned the telecom companies that the court may initiate contempt proceedings against them and government officials for not complying with it`s order.


The Supreme Court on Friday (February 14, 2020) came down heavily on the telecom companies over non-payment of dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the government and summoned their top executives to court to explain why its order in this regard was not followed.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also warned the telecom companies that the court may initiate contempt proceedings against them and government officials for not complying with it`s order.

Coming down heavily on the Telecom companies, the top court bench led by Justice Mishra said, "We don't know who is creating this nonsense. Is there no law left in the country... It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country."

The bench also comprising Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah, expressed anguish over the order passed by DoT's desk officer staying the effect of its verdict in AGR matter.

''Does the Supreme Court have no value? This is the outcome of money power." All these companies haven’t even paid a single penny and your officer has the audacity to stay the order," the bench said.

The top court also directed the managing directors of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, MTNL, BSNL, Reliance Communications, Tata Telecommunication and others to be present in the court on March 17. The apex also directed the Centre to immediately withdraw order passed by its desk officer to not take coercive action against the telecom companies.

Justice Mishra also added that the telecom companies haven`t even paid a single penny and the government officer wants to stay on the order.

The top court warned that this officer was liable to a jail term if that order was not withdrawn within an hour. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered telecom companies to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the government.

On January 16, Justice Mishra-led bench had dismissed review petitions of telcos seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by January 23, saying it did not find any "justifiable reason" to entertain them.

The top court had on October 24 last year ruled that the statutory dues needed to be calculated by including non-telecom revenues in AGR of telcos.

(With Agency inputs)