When Reliance Jio entered that telecom sector, it brought steep competition for incumbent telcos with aggressive prepaid plans, free voice calling and cheap data. Now, the telco has its yes set on the fiber to the home (FTTH) service which will bring high-speed wired line broadband to the masses. And with the space getting highly competitive, Airtel and Vodafone Idea are likely to team up in the optical fiber space. Airtel chairman, Sunil Mittal said that he has “invited” Vodafone Idea to be a partner in Telesonic, the company’s fiber company, so as to pool together the assets.
“We have given an invitation. We did that in towers, and if you remember, Indus Towers was created. On the same lines, we have asked Vodafone-Idea to come and join the fibre company,” Sunil Mittal told TOI. He further added that Vodafone Idea has given a “warm response” and the partnership would help Airtel save on costs by cutting down on duplication while expanding its fiber network.
“They have a lot of fibre, we have a lot of fibre. Though we have lot of overlaps, both of us will gain about 25% capacity and new routes which we don’t have… So, you stop wasting money,” Mittal added. The move comes right a day after Vodafone group CEO Nick Reads said that telcos should “collaborate and share network” which will not only help in managing cost efficiency, but also help in offering better coverage.
When asked if Mittal would also invite Jio for the mega fiber formation, he said “From my point of view, more the merrier. However, First let’s get the Vodafone-Idea thing going, then we will see after that.” Mittal also added that Airtel is open to partner e-commerce players such as Amazon India and Flipkart to broadbase customer offerings.
However, he ruled out participating in 5G auctions as the reserve prices are way too high to buy right now. Mittal further added saying that the government should support the telecom industry or else it may lose heavily creating large pile of debts, and collapse like the aviation sector.