Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/a-vi-collapse-may-prove-costly-for-150m-2g-users/articleshow/85310573.cms?utm_source=ETTopNews&utm_medium=HPTN&utm_campaign=AL1&utm_content=23Synopsis
About 140-150 million 2G subscribers of Vodafone Idea (Vi) would be the most affected if the struggling telco succumbs to its financial woes, said industry executives and analysts.
About 140-150 million 2G subscribers ofVodafone IdeaNSE -3.08 % (Vi) would be the most affected if the struggling telco succumbs to its financial woes, said industry executives and analysts. In such an eventuality, these users — mainly daily wagers — would need to pay more while switching to rival telecom operators, in terms of higher bills or to buy new 4G phones sinceRelianceNSE 1.67 % Jio Infocomm does not have a 2G network.
Vi has said in its review petition to the Supreme Court that if it goes bankrupt, then more than 270 million subscribers will be left high and dry. Of these, Vi has 119 million wireless broadband or 3G/4G subscribers while the rest are 2G ones.
“Airtel will increase prices if Vi closes down so that only those who can afford the service come to its network. A lot of 2G customers, typically daily wagers, use low quality phones, which impacts the network quality. Airtel might not want that,” said an industry executive, who did not wish to be identified.
For Jio, those users will have to think about buying a new phone. This is not feasible for a majority of such subscribers, experts said, adding that in both situations Vi’s 2G customers will suffer. “However, they will still have BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.) as an option,” said the executive.Bharti AirtelNSE 2.23 % and Jio did not respond to ET’s emailed queries.
“The question of what happens to the low-end 2G handset users of Vi, in case it ceases to exist, has parallels to how operators globally have handled the 2G/3G switch-off issue, even though a portion of their current users were 2G/3G handsets users,” said Ashwinder Sethi, principal at Analysys Mason. “Jio and Airtel will need to facilitate low-end 4G handsets or 4G feature phones and also provide handset subsidies to enable these users to afford a 4G handset.”
Jio is set to launch itsaffordablesmartphone, developed in partnership with Google, on September 3. While the price is yet to be revealed, industry watchers suggest that the price will be heavily subsidised by the Mukesh Ambani-led telco.
“I do hope that TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), which has a responsibility for consumer protection, will be especially vigilant. It should ensure that 2G users can port or upgrade conveniently and affordably,” said Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First (India).
While there are concerns that Jio and Bharti Airtel will need to resolve network capacity-related requirements to accommodate Vi’s subscribers, mobile number portability (MNP) companies are confident of ramping up capacity to process requests from Vi customers if it ceases to exist.
Currently, Syniverse Technologies India and MNP Interconnection Telecom Solutions India provide MNP services in India. The two companies did not respond to ET’s queries.
( Originally published on Aug 13, 2021 )