Spectrum auctions for 5G may need to be postponed anyhow due to the pandemic disruption. But as of now, only Reliance Jio would be comfortable with bidding for 5G spectrum and it claims to have a home-grown 5G network solution, which will allow it to build out network quickly. All said, Reliance Jio is a clear gainer in the sector. Bharti Airtel should be able to cope and may also gain as subscribers migrate out of the Vodafone Idea’s network. On its part, Vodafone Idea is in danger of becoming a “zombie” telecom service, but it may just about survive. It’s unknown what the parents of Vodafone Idea will do because it would need large capital infusions to thrive under the current circumstances. The banks may be cautious about taking further exposures to the telecom sector, so raising debt from the market to settle the AGR may not be easy.
Post-verdict, the sector will therefore, continue to have three private players. But one of them will be at a major disadvantage compared to the other two. Of the other two, Reliance Jio will clearly be able to enhance its leadership position. Bharti Airtel may eventually gain as it eats into the market-share of Vodafone Idea and it can also hope to capture some migration out of the state-owned BSNL.
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