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"I would say watch out for March'18... that will be the

They (Jio) are going to charge from April 1, so by March of 2018. . . you will start to see a new order emerging out of this industry," Mittal said.

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"I would say watch out for March'18... that will be the
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milestone. March'18 is when this industry dust will settle down. It takes about a year. They (Jio) are going to charge from April 1, so by March of 2018... you will start to see a new order emerging out of this industry," Mittal said.

On whether he feared that Bharti Airtel too like Idea Cellular in Q3 could potentially be staring at the first-ever net loss or flat profits in Q4, he said, "I don't think we will go into losses, but who knows, you can never say never".

"These are functions but we have tanked up a lot of spectrum, we have obviously to pay interest on that but we still have close to 5 billion dollars in EBITDA and we generate over a billion dollar in free cash flow. While the return on capital has become a dismal single digit, I think Airtel s balance sheet remains healthy and strong," he said.

He said that even Idea Cellular's net loss should not be seen as a big worry as it still had a positive free cash flow.

"I won't worry too much...even in the case of Idea's net loss, because they still have a positive free cash flow You have to decipher and disaggregate industry s financial, there is large amount of spectrum purchases which have been paid for or will be paid over a period of time. There is an associated interest on it, and a 5-year depreciation of spectrum -- the two line items are a new load on the industry.

"Idea was a victim of that also The other is the capex because you are suddenly accelerating your capex investment.

We have put in 85,000 sites last year. I think by the next month, it will be another 85,000. That means a lot of depreciation gets accumulated and that is a non cash item on P&L but it is depreciation. So, if you look at all this, you could be in negative territory. Many operators go into the negative territory, but you have to see the free cash flow," he said.

Stating that the 25 per cent market share that belonged to smaller players is "evaporating" in the wake of industry consolidation, he said, "You will have, to my mind, 85 per cent if not 90 per cent, between the three (large) operators".

Given that data consumption is going up and the pool is likely to be divided among 3-4 players, Mittal said that the economics will start to work well as the revenue per customer will rise on the back of Internet of Things and telecom users getting hooked to entertainment on mobile in a big way.

 

(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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