Published On: Thu, Sep 8th, 2016

You can’t hold off Reliance Jio for long, Mukesh Ambani tells rivals


Reliance chairman minced no words when he said the “old telecom” industry was abusing its dominant position to hurt Jio’s margins. Mukesh Ambani said Jio’s customers had “suffered over five crore call failures to other networks because of insufficient interconnect capacity” in one week alone.

“I think that the old telecom industry is used to using incumbent power, but I think these tactics don’t work anymore. A Jio user will figure out that nothing is wrong with the service…the customer will soon start questioning if the incumbents are anti-consumer,” he told TOI in a free-wheeling interview.

India’s top incumbent carriers have told the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) they are in no way obliged or in any position to entertain Jio’s requests for interconnection points as they do not have either the network or the financial resources to terminate the latter’s humongous volumes of potentially asymmetric voice traffic.

The tussle has left Ambani upset but he believes his rivals can’t hold Jio off for long.

“All operators have publicly said last week that they will provide this (interconnect and MNP). So, we are waiting. These are all great companies. They have their own reputations to protect. I am confident they won’t violate the law,” he said.

“It’s like saying that because you are a dominant person, you violate traffic lights. You can be let off once or twice, maybe…Our view is that interconnect is an issue of a few weeks. You cannot break the law beyond that. It is there in the licence that you are supposed to provide inter connect, irrespective of traffic,” Ambani said, adding that he expected the problem to be solved in a few weeks. “In the long run, you cannot take violation of legal licence obligations lightly,” he said.

“I have utmost regard and appreciation for the likes of Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, etc, but we have obligations to our fellow operators when we sign for a licence. You are supposed to augment interconnect when the current capacity utilisation reaches 70 per cent. You cannot use excuses that someone is doing promotions, capacity requirement has gone up, etc. That is not acceptable.”

Talking about the competition, the RIL boss said the market was big enough for everyone to follow their own business models and co-exist peacefully. He opined that consumers must be of utmost priority and even the competitors musn’t abuse their market position.

He is also worried about the Mobile number portability. “The number belongs to the consumer. No operator can cause trouble if they want to change operators,” he said.

Ambani is also not very happy with COAI’s stand on the whole issue. He claimed that in an association, the voting rights of the members depend on the revenue of the operators, and since Jio had zero revenue, hence they were crowded out.

“What happens is that the official or the CEO of the association becomes an employee of the top two or three operators, in essence. If the top two operators control more than 51 per cent, it’s an inherent flaw in its structure,” he suggested.

“We have aspirations of getting substantial revenue. When we get substantial revenue, we will not misuse our revenue power. That I can guarantee you.” he also added.

Commenting on peers, Ambani said that they all have agreed that this is a big opportunity. There is no one right or wrong. “I am good friends with all of them (Sunil Mittal, Kumar Mangalam Birla) and I am aiming to remain so in spite of the competition,” he said.

Courtesy The Economic Times

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology