The new race to win the 4G race

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After years of waiting, the 4G is finally here. Exactly, the Airtel girl has been yakking about it for ages now but the true arrival of 4G for me is now. It is when the competition starts off.

Airtel made the first move, and others followed as soon as they can implement their own version on to their networks as early as possible. And as you all may already know, the pace of the launches are all keeping an eye on the Jio bomb that Mr. Ambani has been readying.

The news of launch have been leaked quite a few months ago, and ever since this has been one race against the clock to gain advantage while Reliance is readying their arsenal. Airtel had a first mover advantage when they launched 4G, but how many new subscribers got added is something that is not very clear. Also, most of the additional connections have been the portable Wi-Fi devices – still a win for Airtel.

The Monsoon Bonanza from Reliance in the past has been a super hit, biggest bone-breaking launch anyone has ever done in a telecom space in the year 2002. Reliance Jio 4G is coming to do something similar with the market by disrupting the cost barrier. Even though the telecom companies are crying foul on the margins they have, it must not be easily mistaken that they do make good profit – why else would they continue to invest heavily?

Reliance Communications (Anil Ambani’s company), in association with Facebook’s Free Basics and Internet.org or Airtel’s Zero were a step in a direction to further improve money margins for these companies. However, in true interest of net neutrality, their moves have now been blocked by TRAI – the Telecom Regulatory Authority in India – thanks to the heavy campaign by so many netizens. This is a win that Jio is trying to keep for itself without becoming a enemy to net neutrality in the eyes of the law.

What Jio 4G can do that other’s cannot?

Reliance, apart from being a telecom service provider now also owns the Network 18 (which it acquired by exploiting their stake contract terms) since 2014. Network18 is among the largest broadcasters in India, streaming News and Entertainment content to millions of homes in India.  Airtel and Vodafone do not have the same might in the content space and this could be a drawback. They can tie up with Star and other broadcasters, however it would cost them more than what it would cost Reliance.

Given that Reliance has access to its digital content from Network18 (owned by Independent Media Trust, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd.) and has a pan-India network with licenses to operate in 22 circles, Reliance is set to directly compete with Airtel which is currently the largest telephony network provider in India. Vodafone, thought with all its international might has been struggling to close the gap with the Sunil Bharati Mittal enterprise, is also an important player not to be overlooked.

The game plan for Jio is, drop the prices of data to extreme lower levels and play the content game. With the youth choices in our country changing, Mukesh Ambani has played a masterstroke. It will be a wait and watch if he makes it across the rope.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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