Opportunities and Challenges for Telecom Operators in India

India has several telecom operators operating in few to all telecom circles across India. These include Indian as well as foreign telecom operators. The reason for huge interest of companies in this sector is that India has a huge market for telecom services.

But the competition in this sector is also intense and requires huge capital investments to build infrastructure especially if you want to cover the non-urban areas in the country. The cost of acquiring spectrum required for operating telecom services has also gone up as the companies now have to bid for it. To make things even more difficult, the top India company Reliance Industries is now coming up with its new telecom company called Reliance Jio and has announced to offer 4G internet at super low tariffs.

All these factors created burden on the balance sheets of smaller telecom players who have either sold off their businesses to bigger players or are looking for partners. The stage is set for the consolidation in the telecom sector in India. And I see only 4 to 5 companies operating in this sector going forward.

The companies I see surviving this competition are: Airtel, BSNL, Idea Mobile, Reliance Jio, Telenor, and Vodafone. Amongst them, each company has its strong and weak points. Some have a country wide network, some have a quality network with minimum call drop, others have most competitive call rates and others have most attractive data plans. So, each company has its strong point based on which they get their customers.

So, which company should you go for? The table below shows a comparison of strengths and weaknesses of these companies

OperatorCostVoice QualityData Speed4GCall Drop Ranking
AirtelExpensiveGreatGreatOfferedExcellent
BSNLEconomicalPoorGoodOfferedVery Poor
IdeaReasonableGreatGoodStartedExcellent
Reliance JioEconomicalNANANANA
TelenorEconomicalGoodGoodStartedExcellent
VodafoneExpensiveGoodGoodStartedExcellent

Call Drop Source: Trai Report of March 2015