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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Airtel will not follow Jio, says no to free voice calls

Airtel will not follow Jio, says no to free voice calls
The big-bang entry of Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio has shaken the mobile industry and prompted the existing players to opt for widespread tariff revisions. Airtel has also been rationalising plans after the entry of Jio, but Gopal Vittal, CEO of the country's biggest operator, says that the company will never follow Jio and give free voice across its offerings."More than 80% of the industry's revenue still comes from voice... Voice can never be made free for customers who do not use data," Vittal tells TOI in an interview:

How strong is Airtel in terms of spectrum holdings?

Airtel will not follow Jio, says no to free voice calls
If you look at the last five years and if you look at today , we now have a 3G layer across every circle, and in several circles we have two carriers of 3G. We also have a 4G layer of 1,800 MHz across circles. Out of 22 circles, we also have capacity spectrum of 2,300 MHz in 19 circles. So spectrum-wise, we are very well positioned for the next five-to-seven years.

700 MHz saw no bidding where industry had complained of high pricing. Do you think there is a need for price rationalisation?

We had a difference of opinion regarding 700 MHz which we felt was unaffordable. I think the pricing would have to come down to generate interest in this band. Secondly , the infrastructure is still nascent. It has taken five years for 2300 MHz band to develop.

How do you see competitive landscape after Jio's entry?

Pricing will come under a lot of pressure. They (Jio) are currently doing free stuff, they have announced some of their tariff plans, and some of that will compress pricing.

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