MON, JULY 31 2017-Telecomms analysts say Bharti Airtel expects 3G networks to shut down faster in India amid rapid inroads by 4G devices and surging adoption levels, but sees 2G and 4G co-existing in the country as affordable feature phones continue to account for nearly 70% of the installed base of mobile phones.
However, he clarified that Airtel had not identified any markets where such 3G network shutdowns were likely anytime soon.
Sector analysts had said Airtel’s flattish consolidated revenue numbers in the April-June period after three consecutive quarters of decline, coupled with decent quarterly data revenue growth, signalled a possible return to stable trends in a turbulent telecom market, the end of last year the Full Service Access Network (FSAN) forum for broadband access, which is co-chaired by Vodafone, published its Roadmap for optical fibre broadband for the next decade.
A new roadmap is a significant milestone for a body that started only 20 years ago and designed the Gigabit-capable passive optical network (GPON) technology that is now dominating Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments worldwide.
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“Airtel does not subsidise handsets nor does it manage (device) inventories, but we will look at bundling opportunities to grow our market share,” said Vittal, indicating the company’s likely response to Jio’s recently launched mass-market 4G feature phone. Analysts say India’s top telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular would need to react fast to Reliance Industries’ new 4G VoLTE feature phone – JioPhone – to be launched in September through which Reliance Jio Infocomm is expanding its target subscriber base to the 500 million basic phone users who currently use the 2G services of the incumbents. CLSA says that the top 3 incumbents are at high risk from 4G feature phone disruption, given they account for about 60% of all 2G data users who in turn account for a significant part of the around 80% revenue that telcos still derive from voice.