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News Roundup: India Mobile Congress Pits Ambani’s 5G Vision For Jio Against Airtel & More

News Roundup: India Mobile Congress Pits Ambani’s 5G Vision For Jio Against Airtel & More

Ambani urged the government to accelerate the rollout of 5G, adding that Reliance Jio would pioneer India’s 5G revolution

Speaking at the same event, Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said India was not ready for the roll-out of 5G mobile services

The Department of Telecommunications announced at the event that the government will shortly announce spectrum bands for the rollout of 5G

The India Mobile Congress, 2020, held from December 8-10, turned into a battleground for two of India’s biggest telecom companies, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, with both companies differing over the timeline for the proposed rollout of the fifth generation of mobile networks or 5G. 

Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio chairman Mukesh Ambani, while giving the inaugural keynote of the event, urged the government to accelerate the rollout of the 5G technology, adding that Reliance Jio would pioneer India’s 5G revolution in the second half of 2021. 

Ambani has been talking up Jio’s ‘Made in India’ 5G solution through this year. At the Reliance Annual General Meeting in July this year, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate had even talked about exporting the technology. At IMC 2020, Ambani once again claimed that the company’s 5G solution would be powered by indigenously built hardware, network and technology components. 

However, speaking at the same event on the same day, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Airtel, said India was not ready for the roll-out of 5G services.

“I think India, to my mind, in two or three years’ time will be ready to receive the benefit of the investment that the globe would have made onto the 5G standard and 5G ecosystem,” said Mittal.

Mittal added that at the present time, 5G spectrum prices would be unsustainable for telcos to invest in while at the same time, the technology ecosystem for 5G also remained underdeveloped in the country. 

At the same event, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced that the government will shortly announce spectrum bands for the rollout of 5G technology. Officials confirmed that the department was having consultations with various ministries to see how spectrum in different bands can be used in a coordinated way.

Other News 

  1. This week, we examined whether India’s online fantasy sports platforms (OFSPs) are ready to implement NITI Aayog’s guiding principles for such games of skill. From the legal feasibility of a uniform countrywide regulation for fantasy sports to their preparedness in implementing the age restrictions proposed by NITI Aayog, we decoded where fantasy sports platforms stand.
  2. Gurugram-headquartered hospitality firm OYO has laid off around 300 employees this month, a person close to the development told Inc42. This is the latest in a string of layoffs which have impacted thousands in OYO’s staff amid the revenue crunch caused due to reduced demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  3. Google Pay’s India financials indicated that the company’s profit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 (FY20) stood at INR 33 Cr, a 6.5x growth from the last fiscal year’s profit of INR 5.1 Cr. The company’s EBITDA margin also grew from 3.49% in FY19 to 5.02% this year. However, direct revenue from customers stood at INR 72.07 Cr, just 4.8% of Google Pay India’s total revenue for FY20.
  4. The personal data of 7 Mn Indian credit card and debit card users has been leaked on the dark web this month. The leaked database, sized 2 GB, which is on a public Google Drive link, includes cardholders’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, name of employer firms and annual incomes. The leaked database also includes the PAN numbers for 5 Lakh cardholders.
  5. The Karnataka High Court, on Wednesday (December 9), posted the final date for hearing India’s antitrust watchdog, the Competition Commission of India’s plea for vacating the stay on an investigation into ecommerce giants Amazon and Flipkart, for anticompetitive practices, to January 18, 2021.

Among the movers and shakers this week, Bengaluru-based vernacular social media platform ShareChat has appointed Ajit Varghese as its chief commercial officer.

From the funding and acquisitions corner, overall, about $78.1 Mn was invested across 17 Indian startups this week, and three companies were acquired.

We will be back with next week’s edition of News Roundup.