Airtel and Vodafone disagree over 5G monetization

Top Indian telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea hold opposing views on 5G monetization, with the first claiming that it won’t be difficult in the data-hungry nation and the latter arguing that there won’t be many financial gains without the ecosystem cooperating.

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Airtel, Randeep Sekhon, referred to the issue of 5G monetization as the “elephant in the room.”

When contrasted to Japan or Korea, the cost of installing infrastructure from vendors like Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung is about 10–20% lower, according to Jagbir Singh, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who also noted that telcos are under pressure from customers who want next-generation services at 4G-like tariffs, which affects the average revenue per user (ARPU).

He suggested reducing chip costs and equipment power usage. To ensure the monetization of 5G, the entire ecosystem needs to cooperate. Otherwise, there isn’t much of an improvement in the results.

Sunil Mittal, the chairman of Airtel, stated that the telco is starting to roll out 5G in eight cities, including New Delhi, Varanasi, and Mumbai. Akshay Moondra, the CEO of Vodafone Idea, stated that the company is beginning to roll out 5G in the next coming years.

Industry experts agree that enterprise use cases will propel 5G revenue for telecom carriers in the interim. In the future, telcos anticipate that their enterprise business will account for about 40% of 5G revenue.

Sekhon, however, noted that enterprise monetization is not simple and will require the ecosystem’s interaction in order to be successful by providing value addition to enterprises.

Notably, Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal recently stated at a JP Morgan investor summit that the second-ranked telco views ARPU growth via tariff increases as its primary driver for 5G monetization in the near term. Citing the fact that telecoms is an essential service, Vittal said he is not concerned about consumer acceptance.