Modi Telstra. Hutch. Spice. S-Tel. Etisalat. Loop Mobile. Virgin. T24. Videocon. MTS. Aircel. Telenor. Docomo. Reliance Communications. Phew! That's the long list of telecom operators in India which either didn't take off or went bankrupt or got merged into a larger entity. BSNL is a government white elephant, Vodafone Idea is in the doldrums and AirTel has been reporting consistent quarterly losses.
That leaves only one company which has the potential of being the Last Man Standing. That’s Reliance Jio, the newest kid on the block that has captured market share and whose disruption long ago still reverberates in the Indian telecom industry.
While there has been economic doom and gloom thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, only one company seems to be on a spree to acquire money. In just under a month, Jio has picked up a whopping Rs 60,000+ crore from its deals with Facebook, Silver Lake and Vista Equity partners.
Here are three things to note…
1. Money. Money. Money.
The COVID-19 economic recession may be in full swing right now and nobody knows how long it is going to last. But when things pick up, Jio is the only telecom operator in India which currently has money in its war chest and can go all guns blazing during the economic upswing. After every recession, usually the market beats its previous records and rising investments sees a slew of new products. You can be sure that Jio has a long-term game plan. You can be sure that it will be big. You can be sure that when that happens, the gap will further widen with its competitors.
2. Mobile + Apps + Data = Karlo Duniya Mutthi Main.
Facebook is not just Facebook. It’s WhatsApp. It’s Instagram. It’s Messenger. It’s Oculus. Jio, apart from being the market leader is also Jio Mobile, JioFi, JioFiber, Jio Apps and many other things. The future belongs to the ecosystem of the mobile handset + apps + data pipe. Mukesh Ambani is baking the complete cake and not just looking at individual ingredients. Years ago, Dhirubhai Ambani was not just into textiles, but the entire backend of the production process. Mukesh is doing the same with the mobile ecosystem.
3. Life beyond 4G.
The future belongs to Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoTs), Industrial IIoTs, wearable IoTs, connected buildings, connected cars, smart factories, collaboration, drones… Connectivity of that sort cannot be sorted by 4G or copper/optical fibre cables but only 5G. It is possible that when the 5G auctions are finally held after the COVID-19 recession, Jio may be the only credible bidder for a variety of reasons.
Till 4G it was mainly about mobiles, but once you got to 5G, the scope widens exponentially. In the future whoever controls 5G and its successor technologies controls not just mobile telephony, but the entire home-office-factory-drone-connected car ecosystem. It won’t be mobile telephony but universal connectivity. We already know who is a frontrunner for dominating that impending future.