India will not see a monopoly or duopoly in the telecom sector with state-owned BSNL emerging as a ‘very stable’ player, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said.Speaking at the Express Adda on Saturday, he allayed concerns of a duopoly emerging in the market with weakening financials and dropping market share of Vodafone Idea Ltd. “No, we are not heading towards a monopoly. Even a duopoly will not be there. BSNL is coming up as a very stable player in the market,” he said when asked whether the state of affairs in Vodafone Idea and the current financial struggles faced by Airtel would leave Reliance Jio the single dominant mobile telephony player.
The telecom market currently has three private players – billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd. Jio’s disruptive entry has helped it to become the largest operator in the country and it is now leading the 5G rollout. Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Airtel is competing with Jio while Vodafone Idea is yet to announce a 5G rollout plan due to financial stress. Vaishnaw said state-owned BSNL is stabilising operationally. “They have started making operating profits now. It’s a turnaround story for BSNL,” the minister said. He said the technology BSNL is going to use, India’s 4G and 5G stack, is a step above similar technologies across the world.
When asked whether there would be four thriving players or three thriving players and one struggling player, Vaishnaw replied that the market would decide. The minister said India will become the biggest semiconductor manufacturing destination in the next five years with the government ensuring that the right ecosystem is built. The government in December 2021 announced a scheme worth Rs 76,000 crore for attracting semiconductor and display fabs factories in the country.
“We know for sure that in the coming 4-5 years, India will become the biggest semiconductor manufacturing destination in the world if you have the ecosystem in place. Our focus is making sure that the right ecosystem is built,” he said. He said semiconductor manufacturing faces several challenges, including the availability of special raw materials and a reliable power supply. “When we are creating a new industry, people have a tendency to wait and watch, which is very natural,” he said.