Barcelona: Forecasting a gloomy future for telecom sector aspirants, top mobile operator Bharti Airtel said on Wednesday that all the new players will “collapse” within three years.
“All new players will collapse within 36 months. These firms will take at least 12 months to build their network and 24 months after that they will struggle to survive in the market. I feel it does not make a viable position,” said Sunil Mittal, group chairman and CEO, Bharti Group.
Mittal’s almost echoed the views of Vodafone, whose CEO Arun Sarin had said on Tuesday that only one or two new players would remain in the arena and consolidation process will start in the telecom sector. He also desired to buy spectrum from the market in case it did not get the additional frequency from the government.
“Who buys them or not, after 36 months is not clear... our position is that please don’t give spectrum to anybody at the cost of our (existing players) growth path,” Mittal said.
Bharti Airtel has achieved 60 million subscriber base (both mobile and fixed) and one billion minutes of traffic is going through its network per day.
In most of the countries worldwide, there are only 3-4 operators with 18-20 MHz of spectrum, and in fact, this is the requirement in India also, Mittal said.
Any new player with talktime of 20 million minutes or 50 or even 100 million minutes a day can only make losses, he added.
There are nine firms, including Unitech, Shyam Telelink, Datacom, who have been waiting for spectrum to start their services, while two companies Reliance Communications and Tata have been allowed to start GSM services under the dual technology clause.
The nine companies have been given Letters of Intent and the government is expected to soon sign licence agreements with them, followed by allotment of spectrum.
Asked about the government’s decision to implement mobile number portability, Mittal said, “we are ok with the proposal but we want it to be done throughout the country at one go.”