Collaboration key to mobile survival: Bharti Airtel

John C. Tanner
19 Nov 2009

Collaboration is crucial to surviving in India’s hyper-competitive market, says Bharti Airtel chief Manoj Kohli

“India is seeing tremendous growth in the mobile sector but it is also a very tough market, and not just because of the low ARPU,” said Kolhi, CEO and joint managing director of India’s biggest mobile operator.

“This is a market where voice is billed at just over one cent per minute, 25% to 30% of revenues go to taxes and we have the least amount of spectrum per operator – around 8 MHz compared to a world average of 25 MHz.”

Faced with fierce price-based competition, cellcos in India have been forced to innovate new services and reduce churn, and to seek partners via outsourcing, said Kohli during a morning keynote speech at the start of the Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong Wednesday.

Kohli cited Airtel’s network outsourcing contracts with vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and – most recently – Alcatel-Lucent, who will be looking after the operator’s fiber network.

Airtel has also outsourced financial services, IT, and call centers, “which gives us more speed and efficiency,” Kohli said.

Kohli also highlighted Indus Towers, the tower sharing joint venture owned by Bharti Infratel, Vodafone Essar and Aditya Birla, which now owns 130,000 towers in 16 of India’s telecom circles.

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