Self Harm

Incumbents: 0, Reliance Jio: 2 (Never bring a knife to a gunfight)

After losing the POI battle to Reliance Jio, incumbent telcos are about to lose the IUC one too. Their mistake was to rely on conventional tactics

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Since the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in September last year, India’s leading telecom incumbents – Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone – have been hemorrhaging subscribers, revenue, and profits. But even in their darkest days of misery, they had one silver lining—every time a Jio subscriber called one of their own, their cash registers rang up 14 paise ($.002). This was the “interconnect usage charge” (IUC) that any wireless operator in India has to pay its peer for “terminating” a call on the latter’s network.

On first glance the amount looks too small to matter. Till you realize the…

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