The telecom sector is going through a virtual consolidation and within a few years the country will have just 4-5 big operators offering services at the national level, Reliance Communications Ltd Chairman Anil Ambani said today.
Anil Ambani also said Reliance Communications will have greater cooperation on a wide range of services with Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is led by his elder brother Mukesh Ambani.
"We believe that the telecom sector is going through a virtual consolidation and we expect in the next few years India will see 4-5 large operators who will be there on nation wide basis," Ambani said while addressing shareholders on its 9th annual general meeting of Reliance Communications here.
India has about a dozen telecom players at present, with 6-7 operating on pan-India basis.
On the National Telecom Policy, Anil Ambani said it is forward looking, progressive and will support competition, choices for the consumer and consolidation in the sector.
Stating that Reliance Communications will continue offering CDMA services, Ambani said the company will participate in future auctions to acquire spectrum for offering 4G and other services.
"Our licences (CDMA) are valid till 2021.... We will continue to provide world-class CDMA services in addition to offering GSM and 3G services. We will participate in future auctions as the need of spectrum comes and we will be in a position, as we acquire new spectrum, to offer 4G and other services," Ambani said.
However, he added: "By the time we participate and spectrum is found there will be development where India will move ahead of 4G and we will be participating with dual technology platform in the future."
He said Reliance Communications has already signed two pacts worth over Rs 14,000 crore with Reliance Jio, which has pan-India spectrum to offer 4G services, and expects even greater cooperation with it going forward.
"...we have already signed two different agreements with overall value of over Rs 14,000 crore and we believe there will be much more cooperation in the months and quarters to come as Reliance Jio Infocomm gets ready for launch," he said.
On demerger of Reliance Communications' real estate assets into a separate company, Ambani said the board has given in-principle approval on the issue and Reliance Properties will be listed as a separate firm.
"The board has given in-principle approval for the demerger of real estate. The current independent valuation of the properties that we have is over Rs 12,000 crore. Reliance Properties will be a separate listed company, all shareholders of Reliance Communications will be given fully tradable shares of this new company free of cost," Ambani added.
The proposed separation of real estate into a separate unit is part of Reliance Communications' strategic plan to divest non-core assets and focus on wireless and enterprise business.
Commenting on data penetration in the country, he said Reliance Communications has taken various pro-consumer initiatives such as offering 3G services at 2G rates which will give results in the coming quarters.
Reliance Communications has a base of 31 million data customers, which includes 7.7 million 3G users.
On the depreciating Indian rupee, Anil Ambani said Indian economy is integrated with the world economy and companies will have to figure out and form their own strategies to deal with the challenges.
"This is clearly something that affects the whole of India. India is not isolated or insulated from global events.... Based on economic reforms which began in 1991, we are integrated with the world economy and companies and countries will have to really figure out and form their own strategies to deal with these challenges," he said.
The Indian rupee today ended at life-time low of 66.24 against the US dollar, down 194 paise or 3.02 per cent from yesterday's close in its biggest one-day fall.
Stating that Reliance Communications is in a uniquely distinctive position, its President and CEO for Wireless Business Gurdeep Singh said the company possesses the largest bandwidth of spectrum at over 150 Mhz, including 2G, 3G and CDMA, along with 2 lakh kilo meter of fibre.
He said Reliance Communications' data centre in partnership with HDFC Ltd will be operational by the end of this year. The centre was set up with an investment of Rs 500 crore.