India is considered one of the largest addressable Mobile Market in the world. Of course, China is the largest, but it is closed to Chinese companies only. For this reason, India had a lot of interest from international operators, and at one time, there were almost 14 operators in India in 2014. It was only after the emergence of the Jio phenomenon that most operators left by the wayside, and only three operators were left after the merger of Vodafone and Idea to become Vi. While Jio came with 4G, all the other operators were on 3G, and Jio took a massive march over them. BSNL, even today, is a 3G player and is expected to launch 4G soon.
Today, four operators in India, including Airtel, BSNL, Jio, and Vi. While BSNL is a state operator and owned by the Govt., the other 3 are Private operators and are now completely 4g. While V! had some issues after the merger, the backbone had to be upgraded while they reduced the towers. Once they corrected those, their network saw significant improvement, seen in the customer response. However, Airtel has been the true winner in the last few years in the way they responded with investment and the strategy to take on the behemoth called Jio. Today they are giving a good fight to even Jio.
Bharti Airtel Limited is the 2nd largest operator in India after Jio and has a strong presence in Africa, and operates in 18 countries.
Today it offers only 2G and 4G cellular services. They have sunset the 3G network and are focusing on increasing the 4G coverage. They need to retain 2G because there is a huge population of customers with 2G handsets, and therefore must retain that network till it convinces the customers to upgrade their handset to 4G.
Recently Airtel has been in the news for many reasons, more specifically for its testing of 5G Services. It uses different networks from Nokia and Ericson and, in the past, has used networks of ZTE and Huawei. Still, because of Govt clampdown on Chinese companies, Airtel moved to other network providers.
It has very strong leadership under Mr. Gopal Vital, CEO under the chairmanship of Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal or SBM, as he is known in the telecom circles. The company has been the forerunner in introducing new technology in telecom and has made strong inroads in content and gaming through partnerships.
BSNL was a strong player in rural. While it has been a step behind from a technology perspective, it has retained its edge because of its pricing, considered a litter lower than the private operator. Some customers swear by the pricing even in a weak network.
BSNL’s most vital point is its coverage in the rural areas and was available till sometime in certain regions exclusively. It was must later that the private operators also reached there. Sometimes it keeps the commercial interest when coverage has to be given in far-flung areas.
However, their weakest point today is the network speed, and once they launch 4G, they will soon be very competitive.
A lesser-known advantage of BSNL is that since it does not use an automated activation process, activations can be done through a clear copy of Aadhar, while the others will not allow such activation.
Reliance Jio is the poster boy of new India. It is a behemoth in the real sense and has a pin to plan in its portfolio. They made an entry with a bang by giving free data for an extended period, which lead to the downsizing of the telecom industry in India.
Jio has many unique in its history. It is probably the largest deployment of Samsung Network worldwide and the only one in India. Reliance, the mother company, is known for taking very large positions on purchases and making sellers give extra competitive pricing for their offering.
Jio is exclusively a 4G network, and hence if you have a 2/3G phone, it will not work on the network. It has strong partnerships on content and makes sure it lives to the promise of largeness.
Since 4g is a data network for calls, operators have to rely on voice-over LTE to enable voice services.
Jio is largely a prepaid service, while it does provide post-paid, which is only available in their showrooms exclusively.
Vodafone Idea (Vi)
The Aditya Birla Group and the Vodafone Group have teamed up to form Vodafone Idea Limited. While it is a large company and should be in the news in the case of Vodafone Idea, or V! as it is called, it has been in the news for its AGR issue. While the Govt. has released a new package for the telecom industry with a slew of measures, it has benefited V! in a big way.
Until some time ago, the customers will also complain about the network for both voice and data, but V! has gone in for a transformation. The web is now steady and provides good speeds. The network routinely touts its speed ranking from Ookala and Speed test for its network.
The company owns the most spectrum of any Indian telecom company and uses 2G and 4G networks to provide voice and data access to its customers.
Because of Idea, Vi is strong in tier 2 and below cities, and Vodafone is vital for its network in Metro cities.
While every brand has its strength and weakness, every customer must choose which is the best network for them. It is in such a scenario that services.
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