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.
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
In their fight against Reliance Jio, telecom incumbents ignored the importance of public opinion
Public opinion in turn shapes regulatory action, as TRAI's moves on POIs and IUCs show
Incumbents are trying to thwart Reliance Jio by relying on conventional tactics, like denying interconnects or refusing to drop interconnect charges
The best way for incumbents to throw Reliance Jio off balance is to use its own momentum and ambition against it