Billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla has blamed rival Reliance Jio for causing “unprecedented disruption” in the telecom industry by offering free voice and data but hoped the sector would return to growth in 2017-18.
The industry honcho’s commentary in the latest annual report of Idea Cellular comes at a time when the telecom industry is facing a squeeze on revenue and profitability on account of competition intensified by the entry of Reliance Jio, which is owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
However, Mr Birla said that the recovery is expected in 2017-18 with the new entrant starting to charge for its services, “albeit very slowly”.
In spite of short term challenges, the Aditya Birla Group telecom company remains committed to the process of building world-class broadband services, Mr Birla asserted.
On the mega merger of Vodafone’s India unit with Idea, he said a joint merger notification has been filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the Scheme of Arrangement has been filed with SEBI and stock exchanges for their approvals.
Mr Birla exuded confidence that Idea will capitalise on the emerging opportunities in mobile voice, digital content, mobile banking and wireless data business as telecom market invariably moves towards consolidation with five major providers.
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