Airtel plans fibre unit to rival Reliance Jio FTTH
20 August 2018
Bharti Airtel, currently the second-largest telecom company after Vodafone Idea, is forming a new independent fibre company to rival Reliance Jio’s fibre to home cable network that proposes to offer both data and entertainment TV to customers across the country, at relatively cheaper rates.
Airtel has also appointed Abhay Savargaonkar as the new unit’s chief executive officer, while appointing Randeep Singh Sekhon to head the networks department as the new chief of technology for its India and South Asia operations.
The Sunil Mittal-owned Airtel may also dilute stakes to create an independent fibre company that leases out key infrastructure to potential mobile phone operator clients, analysts said.
Savargaonkar, who will continue to report to Gopal Vittal, Bharti Airtel’s CEO (India, South Asia), was the company’s director of networks, equivalent to chief technology officer, previously.
“Given the significant growth in data consumption in recent years, we believe a robust and independent infrastructure company that serves the growing need of fibre in the telecom industry is critical,” reports quoted Vittal as saying in an internal communication.
Bharti Airtel is reported to be in the process of transferring its 246,000 route kilometres of optical fibre cable network to a wholly-owned subsidiary, Telesonic Networks Ltd.
With the creation of the independent fibre company, Airtel is set for preparing for another battle with Reliance Jio in the wired broadband market. Airtel and Jio are already locked in an intense price war in the wireless segment.
The new appointments also come after the exit of Airtel’s chief technology officer for mobile networks, Shyam Mardikar and its enterprise business head Ashok Ganapathy left the company.
Jio is widely expected to offer mass-market wired-broadband product bundled with internet-based television programming starting at about Rs500 a month, almost half the current market rates for similar services.