The revenue advantage older telcos have over Reliance Jio for running multi-technology networks — 2G, 3G, 4G — will go down over time as firms upgrade to 4G handsets.
Jio offers a 4G-only network and has a much lower operational cost than Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. A report from Kotak Institutional Equities says Jio’s network cost advantage comes from a mix of factors such as single-technology network, a smart mix of owned and leased towers, and lower-than-market tower rental deals on a good proportion of sites.
These factors “yield a network opex (operational expenditure) advantage for Jio that incumbents would need to bridge”, it said. “Jio’s like-on-like network costs for a 200,000-site could be in the vicinity of Rs 12,500 crore per annum. Their reported network opex for the Q2 stood at Rs 13.7 billion (Rs 54.9 billion annualised).” In contrast, Airtel's annualised network opex was roughly Rs 132 billion, by Kotak estimate.