For over a decade and a half, Bharti Airtel dominated the telecom business in India, providing affordable 3G voice and internet access to one and all. But Airtel’s days at the top may well be numbered, with the impending launch of 4G services across India by Reliance Jio, the telecommunications arm of India’s biggest company, Reliance Industries Limited.
Reliance Jio has been talked about for long as the game changer in Indian telecom, and now, the 4G war in India has never looked more real. There are other major telecom companies involved in this as well, including Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and Tata DoCoMo. But the real fight is between the top palyers of Indian telecom – Bharti Airtel and the ultimate challenger – Reliance Jio.
Reliance is headed by the richest Indian in the world, Mukesh Ambani, who is worth over $30 billion and Bharti Airtel by the King of Indian Telecom, Sunil Mittal, who is worth $7.3 billion. So, who wins a straight contest between the two multi-billionaires? Let’s find out!
Airtel vs Jio – The Best Coverage:
Here’s where Jio wins hands down. Reliance Jio plans to launch 4G services across the nation, while Airtel has only targeted a few major cities for its 4G launch. So, while you can use Airtel 4G in Bangalore or Mumbai, you won’t be able to do so in Nagpur or Kanpur. Not so with Reliance Jio – you will be able access ultra fast internet from Jio’s 4G services no matter where you are in India.
Airtel vs Jio – The Fight for Customers:
The fact is 4G will be more expensive than 3G and requires customers to adapt to a new 4G ecosystem – new smartphones with 4G capability, dongles, modems and Mifis. So both Jio and Airtel have to target the early adapters – customers belonging to an upper income. It will still take 3 or 4 years before there is a mass adoption of 4G. That will happen, but for the present, Jio has a much superior 4G ecosystem in place than Airtel, and this puts Reliance at a distinct advantage.
Airtel vs Jio – Affordable Devices:
For 4G to be successful, there should be affordable 4G handsets. Most smartphones that are 4G capable are very expensive, and this discourages people from adopting 4G. Reliance will soon come out with cheap Jio branded 4G capable phones to overcome this initial barrier. Jio will also provide affordable set-top-boxes, dongles, modems and Mifis. Airtel is catching up and plans to come up with its own cheap 4G phones as well.
Airtel vs Jio – The Spectrum Advantage:
Jio has a massive edge over the rest of the telecom operators in India because of its ownership of a pan India spectrum in the 2300 MHz band. Airtel has hit back by winning the spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, and by combining 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz, will be able to offer 4G on a pan-India basis – not now, but certainly in the near future.
Airtel vs Jio – The Main Difference:
The real difference between Airtel and Jio is that Jio’s principle advantage lies in fast broadband internet, but is not so great when it comes to voice. Airtel does not offer the fastest broadband internet access, but makes up with superior voice quality. Jio has attempted to improve its voice capability through a partnership with Reliance Communications. The idea is to use 2G and 3G capabilities provided by Reliance Communications for voice and combine them seamlessly with its own 4G for fast internet broadband access. Jio will be using a new technology called VoLTE to provide HD quality voice access as well.
Airtel vs Jio –
Final Thoughts on the 4G War in India Regardless of who wins or loses in the epic 4G war in India, it is clear that India’s internet-starved consumers are already the winners. The fact is that India has one of the worst Internet infrastructures in the world because of the enforced monopoly of public sector companies such as BSNL. The grand entry of Reliance Jio and the rapid development of 4G wireless technology will ensure that India catches up the rest of the world when it comes to internet speed as well. Also, we expect the launch of Jio to reduce the average cost of fast broadband internet access in India from Rs. 60 per GB to Rs. 50 per GB. So, it’s good news all-round.
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Blog by – Raghav Hegde
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